Monday, December 1, 2014

Her College Story: Hidden College Gems - Women's Colleges

By Sarah Hwang
Mount Holyoke College
Class of 2017
Major: In the process of creating her own major combining Art History and IR/politics called: Art and Policy.
Social Chair, MHC KASA: Korean American Sisters Association
Co-Vice President, MHC Planned Parenthood Generation Action

Women’s colleges seem to be hidden gems among the great pile of colleges and universities. I have visited and researched more than 15 liberal arts colleges during my college selection process and I ended up applying Early Decision to Mount Holyoke College. Students are caught up with the linear belief that the ideal college experience is one involving a well-known, highly ranked, co-ed school. I have seen many of my friends conform to this narrative and underestimate the possibilities of a women’s college. Thanks to my guidance counselor, I was lucky to have been exposed to the option of a women’s college.

I was initially against the idea of a women’s college. However, with the help of my counselor and my mother, I was able to learn about the numerous opportunities and advantages only available to students in a single-sex environment, such as Mount Holyoke. One of the many reasons for my decision was for the opportunities to be a strong and efficient leader in not only my college community but in my field as well. I am interested in studying International Relations and World Politics. Both of these are still a “male dominated” field of study today. The fact that we still do not have a woman president and that women make up only 18.3 percent of the 113th congress says a lot about our country. My dream is to eventually represent our country, whether it be working for the United Nations or serving as an US ambassador in a foreign country. However, I feared that my dream would be unachievable due to the harsh reality that my interests are still dominated by men.

In one of my visits to a co-ed college, all of the admissions officers as well as the student representatives were men. It was hard for me to relate to these leaders and envision myself attending these colleges. However, my visit to Mount Holyoke was inspiring as I was able to see myself in the young women leaders of the college community. All of the leadership opportunities are held by women at these single-sex colleges. From the student representatives to the alumnae, I had a number of women leaders to look up to. At a women’s college, such as Mount Holyoke, they help build confidence and strength to prepare students to not only compete with men but to work with them as well. They assure the success of women in their career by overcoming the gender challenges of our society.

Another factor of my decision to attend a women’s college was the close-knit community. During my visit to Mount Holyoke, I immediately felt a sense of community and a common consensus amongst the students. From the various traditions, such as M&C’s and Mountain Day, to the sisterhood that bonds the students, I was drawn to the opportunities to create life-long friendships and connections.

People often question me about my decisions to attend a women’s college. I am usually asked if I am either intimidated by men, very religious, or a lesbian. None of these are true but these questions just show the lack of knowledge that people have about women’s college. I catch myself going on into a rant after trying to explain my reasons for choosing a women’s college. My decision was solely based on what women’s colleges had to offer to me as a student. I feel that a women’s college education is not for everyone but I do highly recommend young high school women to keep an open mind towards this option. I did exactly that and I can truly say how that was one of the best decisions I have ever made. 

                                         © 2014 - Sarah Hwang

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