women who will: why a women’s college

On 30 May 2014, I graduated from a liberal arts women’s college. These four years have been instrumental to my development as an individual, and I would argue that the very fact that it is a women’s college has been the lynchpin to all that I have achieved.

Tower

From here on, I will refer to my college as W, its first initial; this blog is a personal and I would not like to link it to my professional endeavors.

W provided me with two very incredible things: women role models and women peers.

First, the women role models at W have opened my eyes to what my future may hold. For me and many others, gender identification is a large part of our lives and due to societal constructs, we can never really view male role models as the same as female role models. To me, women role models are simply more inspiring because in Western society, there is still a well-documented glass ceiling that men do not face. At W, this glass ceiling does not exist. As a women’s college, W makes a point to have gender-balanced faculty and staff. At every stage in my college career, I have had both women and men for guidance. Witnessing established, professional men interact with and respectfully treat their women counterparts as equals is critical. As a woman, I can relate to the women professionals and think that, “Ah, I can be like that one day.” Every day, I am also reminded of our thousands of women alumnae, who in spite of the glass ceiling, have become successful and live life according to their own terms.

Second, the women peers at W have opened my eyes to what I can do now. W tends to attract a specific type of individual: in-control, ambitious and intense. Being surrounded by women my age who know what they want and go out to achieve that has been an profound experience.  I recognize that some in my college were unhappy with such a high-stress and competitive environment, but for me, it was a source of inspiration and drove me to continue on. Those that succeeded were my friends, my intellectual equals– if they could do this, then so could I.

As much as is possible, W was a paragon of meritocracy– a model that I will continue to look back at and refer to for the rest of my life. W is the world as it should be; judged on merits and not gender or any other irrelevant features. It is a cosseted bubble, but one that let us know our potential and gave us an even playing field to try out our weaknesses and strengths. W made me realize that there are thousands like me in the world, hungry to continually better herself and stand up for our desires and beliefs. As I get ready to face the world as a new graduate, I am reassured that I am not alone.

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4 thoughts on “women who will: why a women’s college

  1. Woohoo! Congratulations! I also just graduated last-last weekend. Its super awesome that you got to go to a more competitive college cause im one of those graduates who know they’ll be doomed for job hunting even with during-college internships and “career-preparing” stuff.
    Will you be continuing straight from your research assistant position into grad school, or pursuing a career before grad school?
    The interesting thing is, it kinda hurts when you realize how many teen kpop idols dont ever go to college (granted they pretty much have a guaranteed career already without having to pay college fees xD)

    • thanks! congrats to you too! nah, from what I’ve learned, if you push yourself hard enough, no matter how small of a name your school is, there’s always an opening. Sometimes it might open later, but you should always keep trying.

      I’m not sure; the research assistant position is only for around 2-3 years and you’re expected to move on after that. I would love to go to grad school and get a phd as of now, but I’m not sure if I’m cut out for that and I’ll be taking classes while working to make sure that it is something that I’d like to pursue. Otherwise, I can go back to school for a masters or go into industry. We’ll see!

      Ah, I think the idols miss out, sadly. College is such a unique dependent/independent phase of life :)

      Best of luck on your after-college plans!! Let me know if I can help with anything.
      Michelle

  2. Michelle, congratulations on graduating from such a prestigious school and writing such a wonderful post about its merits! I’ve always been curious about your experience at W due to its position as a women’s college, and it’s great to hear that it’s affected you in such positive and powerful ways. I also find it interesting (and great) that they include a mix of men and women as faculty members, and I love how you take into account that although other people might not have had the experience that you did, you still appreciate W for what it gave to you. Looking forward to more of your posts throughout the summer and I hope you’re doing well!

    • Thanks for your kind words! I think my experience would describe maybe 60% of the student population; there were a lot of people who really struggled with the ambitious environment and it can be really hard to separate personal ambition from competition. As I kind of said in my finding-a-job post (http://theinnocentlam.wordpress.com/2014/03/15/college-the-trials-and-tips-when-applying-to-jobs/), it can be quite difficult to be in an environment where everyone is so outwardly successful. I guess where I’m going with this is that: don’t shy from ambitious people! They may be nicer than you think and a great resource :)

      Michelle

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