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Bryn Mawr College

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What are the academics like at your school?

If this gives you an idea, we were placed on the Daily Beast's list of most rigorous schools in America (above Stanford). Bryn Mawr academics are TOUGH, but also very rewarding. The plus side is that classes are tiny, discussion based, and really geared toward the goals of the students. This year, I've had professors who not only know me by name, but also know about my family, academic and life goals, hobbies, friends...you name it. Professors here have a seriously genuine concern for their students and really make an effort to connect on a more personal level with them. As for class size, I have had classes with anywhere between 5 and 35 students (as a freshman with intro level classes, this is great!), which has given me an opportunity to get a lot of personal attention from my professors. Students are also invited to their professor's houses for dinner from time to time or are invited to outings with professors (looking at architecture in Philadelphia, going to various conferences, etc.) Students take academics here very seriously. We're given a TON OF READING (in my first semester, I was asked to read over 100 pages a night for an Intro Sociology course!), and are expected to work extremely hard. At the end of the day, the work is doable, and students support each other throughout our studies. Even though there's a lot of work, there is a surprising lack of competition due to our honor code system which frowns upon talking about grades and academic standing. My favorite class so far has actually been my intro writing class called "In Class/ Out-Classed: The Uses of a Liberal Education." The class had about 15 people and was focused around the topic of social class and how it affects our education. We had the chance to go on multiple field trips to local middle schools, work with middle school students, plan campus events that revolved around alleviating issues of social class, and, of course, learn about college level writing. The class was SO MUCH MORE than simply a writing class, and students were held accountable for actually creating a change within the college. For example, one event we held gathered students, faculty, and staff to address issues of social class grievances of campus and actually took steps forward to solve some of these problems--talk about a unique and rewarding experience!

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All my professors know my name--hell, they can even recognize my handwriting. My favorite class was Intro to Linguistics. I've become very conscious about how I speak, both the kinds of words and sentence structure I use to how I produce the sounds because of that class. Every topic, from syntax to language acquisition was fascinating. That the teacher was cute was a plus. Class participation is dependent on the class and time of the day. Bryn Mawr students frequently have conversations about classes, current events, and other topics outside of class. "Competitive" is putting it lightly. The most unique class I've taken was "Bioethics of the Natural World." It was about the environmental issues we're faced with now, and was to go about remediating them, if things can still be reversed. My final paper was on Public Transportation and how it could help decrease the use of fossil fuel, and therefore lessen greenhouse emissions. The physics major is...interesting. It's not for the wishy-washy. They're going to make you WORK. However, the physics major's community of students is especially close because there are so few of us, and the professors are VERY supportive. They even insist that we call them by their first names! Anyway, the major itself is very demanding. There will be late nights spent pouring over a problem set that's due the next day, but it will also be offset by general silliness among the students and professors. Even science majors, and especially physics majors, require fun, contrary to popular belief. I do spend time with profs out of class. Office hours, especially for a science major, is not nice, but a necessity. We also have little Physics get-togethers, usually around the beginning and end of the semesters where everyone is invited. Bryn Mawr's academic requirements are okay. They make you take classes that are outside your major area, which is good, but at the same time can be frustrating, since other people who've actually taken a class in the subject before have preference, if the class is over-enrolled. You can make the education at Bryn Mawr what you want. I know I'm doomed to a life of scraping pennies off the sidewalk by being a Physics major, but there are more useful things you can learn, like Comp Sci or Business too.

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Academically, Bryn Mawr is intense. In freshman year students do have a fair amount of free time, if they want it, but even then there will be weeks in which students do not sleep or relax. Upperclassmen have a worse time of it. It is not uncommon for them to have six or seven hours of homework each night. That being said, students usually do manage to carve out a social life for themselves, but this is not the school to come to if you want to spend four years going to bars and goofing off with friends. It will not happen here. Bryn Mawr is also not the place to go if you want a highly tailored course program aimed specifically at getting a certain career. Bryn Mawr is a liberal arts school, so business courses or majors do not exists. This is a great school for those interested in graduate study. Many, but not all, of the students hear are deeply intellectual, but in different, often quirky, ways. You will find talk of philosophy and history over coffee, but you will also find entire parties planned around renting Disney's extremely inaccurate version of Hercules and showing it to Classical Studies majors. Most students are not competitive, and because of the Honor Code, do not discuss grades or GPAs to people not interested in hearing about them. Some students do find the school to be competitive; I just find it stressful. The professors here and at Haverford and Swarthmore expect a lot out of their students, but will not hesitate to bend over backwards for even the least talented among them. Any student at Bryn Mawr, Haverford, or Swarthmore can take a course or major in a department at any of the three schools, which supplements our own course catalogue nicely.

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Academics at Bryn Mawr. what to say. It's hard. It is demanding, it is time consuming. Is it rewarding? very much so. It's one of the few places that somehow napoleon and luke wilson managed to be compared through a historiographic lens over dinner (really I have no idea how it happened either), or how german words you found particularly entertaining in class get mixed in to every day language and all your friends understand. The professors are wonderful, take time out of their schedules to meet with you. They are interested in your life, academic or other wise, and how you are doing in your adventures and desires in and out of the class room. They will keep jokes running through the entire semester or year. I've had professors make us dinner on more than one occasion. It really is wonderful, and I wouldn't want my relationships with my professors to be any other way. It is just amazingly supportive and amazingly effective. Bryn Mawr has limited general requirements, which allows for a lot of exploration within fields. I picked up an extra major while at it! The work load is large. The work is difficult and everyone knows exactly what the word 'thesis' means and entails. Normally a shudder or groan accompanies it. but everyone survives! The academic work load and the culture surronding it is a big part of bryn mawr, and I think we all secretly love it deep down, once we've all slept enough, eaten enough and no longer are being forced to watch hours upon endless hours of fascist film and decides its effects on the european community.

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I feel that the education at Bryn Mawr is geared toward learning for learnings sake. I am an English major. Yet, the career I want to pursue is teaching elementry school. Bryn Mawr doesn't even have an elementry education department -- it is at Swarthmore in combination with Eastern College. So, to graduate able to teach at the elementry level I must major in another subject and fill the rest of my schedule with education courses so that I can take the Praxis and student teach senior year AND write my English thesis. So, minus the title, I am a double major. I understand that in doing this, Bryn Mawr wants me to receive a well-rounded education and not concentrate on only learning the necessary skills for a later career. I like to think that when I graduate, I will be more than just a teacher. Yet, sometimes it is frustrating because it seems that I am being discouraged from pursuing such a traditionally female dominated position where I can get a job by the time I graduate. Very few liberal arts colleges don't have a full education department...

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Professors absolutely know my name. I only had one (foreign) professor who thought my name was something other than Dawne. Class participation is very common and is generally one of the most important criteria in grading a students performance throughout the semester. Students are competitive however the Honor Code states that grades are not something to be discussed unless both parties agree upon discussion. This means that you won't know the grades of everyone else in the class unless you all consent to share and know. Professors will often post the low-mean-high grades for classes with 10+ students, but otherwise, your grades are the sole business of the student and the professor. The most unique class I took was Paleobiology. The professor was an excellent lecturer and the class covered millions of years in an engaging yet incredibly comprehensive fashion. I came away retaining more information than I ever have in any other course.

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Again, there's a lot for me to write about. I'm sort of just going to go down the list of recommened ideas, so excuse me if this is a little choppy. Yes, many professors know your name. In my last semester, I would say that 3 out of 4 of my profs knew my name. My favorite class (at Bryn Mawr): Females at Risk, by Prof Briggs. How often do students study: Everyday, every weekend, a lot. Intellectual conversations: My friends and I talk about politcals, religion and other "intellectual" subjects alot, but that's not to say we haven't had intelligent conversations about Harry Potter or characters from North and South. Students aren't really competitive: we have a social and academic honor code. The academic honor code highly encourages students to not discuss grades with any one other than your teachers. Some might say that it doesn't work, but I feel that it is generally very succussful.

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All my professors know my name and make an effort to address me using it when I ask questions in class or see them outside of classes. Even in large lecture classes, my professors have made an effort to learn all of the students. One unique academic experience offered at Bryn Mawr College (BMC) is the chance to participate in undergrad laboratory work with professors in almost any science or social science. There are tons of opportunities for research or internship positions on and off campus, during the school year, breaks and summer. Students maintain an academic and social honor code and therefore do not directly discuss grades, but rather work together to understand their studies. You can often hear BMC students discussing class lectures, readings, lab work, and other intellectual topics that they are learning about all over campus.

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Everyone takes academics seriously at Bryn Mawr. It is so refreshing to have a student body that really cares about doing the work for classes and learning the material, while at the same time is not competitive. Bryn Mawr has an honor code policy about not sharing grades, which means we're all competing against ourselves only. But that doesn't mean we don't care. On the contrary, Bryn Mawr girls are passionate in their discussions in-class, so that it usaully continues after class, too. My favorite class is probably my 200-level critical issues in education class. It takes a very philosophical view toward education, and includes fieldwork; I go into Philadelphia for observation every week. Despite the class lasting three hours on a tuesday night, I am always engaged in discussion.

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Bryn Mawr classes are definitely intense. We are always working, but that's also because we are very diligent students. Professors are generally very accessible, approachable and caring. They genuinely care about their students. Students can also take classes at Haverford, Swarthmore and University of Pennsylvania. Registration at classes within the Tri-Co is pretty easy. There is competition on campus, but not in the context in which most of us think about. Due to the academic honor code, students here don't talk about grades, which is why students generally don't know how they compare to their peers within the class. I'm a fan of the academic honor code, for it promotes self-competition, which serves as motivation for us to meet our own personal academic goals.

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