The following is North alumna Bharati Ganesh’s response to our questions about her college decision process, the student life and culture at Bryn Mawr College, and more.
Ganesh graduated from North in 2018. She is part of Bryn Mawr College’s class of 2022.
I chose to attend Bryn Mawr because I felt that the small liberal arts college environment (small, discussion-based classes that enable students to build strong academic relationships with each other and their professors) best suited me as a student.
Going to a historically women’s college was important to me because I wanted to feel empowered. There aren’t many institutions dedicated to uplifting/supporting people who aren’t cisgender-men or that challenge the patriarchy. Bryn Mawr and other historically women’s colleges do both.
I liked that Bryn Mawr is near a large city (Philadelphia) and is close to home. Being able to travel around the tri-state area easily is a convenience that I enjoy.
My decision to attend Bryn Mawr was not automatic—I was torn between quite a few schools. But I trusted my gut and decided that a Bryn Mawr education would offer me everything that I wanted as a student and as a person.
I’m very happy that I trusted my instincts when choosing where to go to college. Bryn Mawr has given me a new kind of quiet confidence I never had in high school. It has given me opportunities to pursue my passion in public policy/urban studies and it has given me a wonderful group of friends.
Photo Credit: brynmawr.edu
I was definitely homesick my first year, but as I got accustomed to a new routine and immersed myself in college life, the blues faded. Besides my mom’s food, I definitely miss Bagel Hole bagels and Romeo’s pizza the most while I’m at college. And though driving is terrible for the environment, I also miss driving around town in my Toyota while listening to good music.
One of my favorite things about Bryn Mawr is its many traditions—both large and small. They make the college experience fun and bring students closer to each other.
I appreciate the consortiums of which Bryn Mawr is a part. For example, the Quaker Consortium enables Bryn Mawr students to take courses at Haverford College, Swarthmore College, and the University of Pennsylvania—at no extra cost. Since course offerings can sometimes be limited at a small liberal arts college, it is great to get off campus and take interesting courses at other institutions, as well as participate in their social activities. The Bryn Mawr-Haverford relationship in particular is so close that students at either school can actually major at the other, which is what I am doing.
The most difficult part about Bryn Mawr is the academic rigor—though I have quickly become accustomed to the workload. Since classes are small (even at the introductory level), professors tend to know their students well and expect regular attendance, consistent participation, and strong academic performance. Though there is little competition among students in class, there is a strong urge to stay in the library and study all the time. Bryn Mawr students enjoy hard work.
Photo Credit: brynmawr.edu
Bryn Mawr culture is unique because of the Honor Code. The Honor Code governs both academic and social life at Bryn Mawr. It predicated on the assumption that students are honest and trustworthy.
The most tangible consequences of the Honor Code are self-scheduled or take-home exams and no open discussion of grades among students unless there is mutual consent.
The less tangible consequences are an attitude of self-governance and continuous dialogue, which manifest in a variety of ways.
For example, the Self-Government Association holds a plenary twice a year where students can propose resolutions to the entire student body. These resolutions are then voted on and if approved, automatically go into effect. Initiatives from reusable take-out containers in the dining halls to a college-wide curriculum for discussions on race have been enacted through plenary resolutions.
I love the environment of mutual trust and respect that the Honor Code fosters at Bryn Mawr. There’s no other place in the world where I can accidentally leave a water bottle in the library and trust that it won’t be stolen.
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