Mail Me, Maybe (Part 2)

My mailbox got a fair bit of love in the past couple of weeks.  Here are two great postcards, one from a prospective Mawrter and the other, from a current Bryn Mawr student.


Caroline writes: “Hi!  Just got home from spending the last part of my summer as a Counselor Assistant and member of the riding staff at Camp Merrie Woode in Sapphire, NC.”



And, from the other side of the world…



Emily Christie ’14 writes: “Dear Rebecca, ZDRAST-voy-tye (as we say hello here in Russia)! I love mail of all sorts- sending and receiving it- so when I saw your post on the Admissions blog, I knew I had to write!  I’m studying in St. Petersburg at the moment; it’s my first time abroad and it’s been a fascinating experience in terms of both language and culture.  And I love exploring the city- yesterday a friend and I found the Gulf of Finland and walked along the beach there.  (I’m from NJ so I’m always happy to have a beach and open water!)  We’ve only got 2 more weeks here, so I’m trying to make the most of my time- I still want to ask my host mom to teach me to make bliny… I hope life in the US is going well… I can’t wait to be back at Bryn Mawr soon!”

Thank you so much, ladies, and I hope to meet you both this fall!

Here on campus, we’re getting ready for the beginning of our school year.  International Student Orientation begins on Sunday and Customs Week, during which first year students learn all about Bryn Mawr’s unique customs, starts in one week.  Further on the horizon is Shopping Week, when Mawrters “shop around” to choose their perfect mix of courses.

What are your plans for these last few weeks of summer?  I can’t wait to hear about them!



Girl Power

If you’re anything like us in Admissions, you’ve been totally obsessed with watching this year’s Summer Olympic Games in London. The 2012 Games have been exciting, with enough nail biter moments to hold us over for the next four years.

Bryn Mawr is all about female empowerment, so for us, a big part of the fun is watching all the female athletes compete. These games are special: they mark the first time that all of the countries have sent female athletes and there are more American women on the U.S. team than men (269 females to 261 men).

We’ve loved watching the Fab 5 flip, vault, and literally fly their way to winning gold medals. And it’s safe to say that if Gabby Douglas ever visited Bryn Mawr, we would totally anass her. While women’s gymnastics is always an Olympic highlight, we have to give a shout out to the U.S. women’s crew team, swimmer Missy Franklin, and tennis rock star Serena Williams. All this and Track and Field is just getting started!

As we revel in female athletes making history in London, we thought we’d share some of Bryn Mawr’s sports history.

  • Our Rowing coaches are both gold medalists. Both Head Coach Carol Bower and Assistant Coach Gabrielle Cipollone have competed in the Olympic Games. Coach Bower made the U.S. team twice, in 1980 (Moscow) and 1984 (Los Angeles). Due to a national boycott in 1980, she did not compete, but won gold four years later in the Women’s 8. In 1988 (Seoul, Korea), she coached the Women’s 4.
    Coach Cipollone is a two time gold medalist who competed in 1976 (Montreal) and 1980 (Moscow) for the East Germany team.
  • While field hockey can be traced back several centuries to Egypt and Greece, it was brought to the United States in 1901 by a British woman named Constance M.K. Applebee. Disappointed with what was considered sport for women at that time, she introduced field hockey to five of the original Seven Sister schools, including Bryn Mawr. She later served as a coach and the College’s director of outdoor sports. She also helped to found the United States Field Hockey Association and created the first magazine devoted to women’s sports.

So, hit the comments and tell us about your favorite Olympic moments. Owls sports fan? Share any amazing Bryn Mawr athletics moments we missed.


Mail Me, Maybe

As a born and raised Californian, my move to Pennsylvania for college was a transition in more ways than one.  Not only did I have to buy a whole new winter wardrobe (I’m not saying it was a difficult transition), I had to find new ways to stay in touch with my friends and family from the west coast.  From late night phone calls to emails and Skype, I’ve managed to maintain many bi-coastal relationships and stave off my occasional west coast homesickness.

Now that I’ve graduated, I’ve used the same methods of communication to stay close to friends who have left Philadelphia and are living all over the country and world.   One of my favorite ways to stay in touch is through snail mail.  In our email-laden society, I really enjoy the feeling of ripping open a letter or turning over a postcard.

Just last week, Priya Saxena, one of our former tour guides who just graduated this May, sent me a postcard (a homemade one nonetheless) from her new home in Washington DC.


Reading her postcard and learning about her summer got me thinking about all the interesting things Bryn Mawr women are doing with their summers.  You can read about some of their adventures in “Bryn Mawr women go places in the summer!”.  And it got me thinking… what are you all doing with your summers?

If you have the chance, send me a postcard from wherever you are this summer.  Whether it’s working in your hometown ice cream parlor or volunteering abroad, I want to hear about it!  I’ll be posting the best postcards I receive throughout the summer and may even respond with a postcard of my own.


Anxiously hovering at my mailbox in anticipation,


Mailing address:

Rebecca Kuperberg
Bryn Mawr College- Gateway
101 North Merion Avenue
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010

PS: If mail isn’t an option for you (or just too much of a hassle), send me an email instead!

The Story Behind the Application: The College Interview

One of my favorite parts of this job is interviewing prospective students. But I haven’t always felt so thrilled about interviews. It was almost five years ago that I did my own interview for Bryn Mawr, and just a few months ago I started interviewing again—for jobs.

Thankfully, a college interview at Bryn Mawr and a job interview (in my case, with an insurance firm and a band management company) are two very different things. At Bryn Mawr, the admissions interview is really more of a conversation. We’re not going to ask you any trick questions. It’s really just a way for us to get to know you better and add some more depth and detail to your application.

As an interviewer now, what I appreciate most from a student is a story. Of course I want to know the basics: classes, extracurricular activities, etc.; but I can get a lot of that from your application and resume. What I want from the interview is the story behind your application—why you’re taking certain classes and how you got involved in activities. I want to hear what you LOVE to do and why you love to do it. Tell me about why you loved your Russian history class or what is most rewarding about the volunteer work you do. When a student tells me about her favorite book or best teacher, I get a much clearer idea of who she is and what makes her tick—and that is when interviews are most interesting and fun!

So don’t be nervous about your interview. Don’t worry about wrong answers—there aren’t any if you’re talking about yourself. And trust me, compared to a job interview, this is cake!

Why a Women’s College?: Famous Fictional Mawrters

A few months ago, I was chatting with a Bryn Mawr alumna who’d come to visit campus with her daughter. She asked me how I felt about Bryn Mawr “alumna” Betty Draper Francis. Betty Draper Francis, class of 1951, is a Bryn Mawr graduate. She’s also a fictional character whose portrayal on the popular television show Mad Men has sparked controversy and debate among alumnae.

In reality, Bryn Mawr has impressive alumnae, among them a Nobel Peace Prize winner, journalists and authors, the geneticist credited with the discovery of X/Y chromosomes, a Hollywood icon, and the first female president of Harvard University.

The list of fictional Mawrters is imaginative. A popular campus quiz “Which fictional Mawrter are you?” states, Bryn Mawr’s “hallowed halls churn out a disproportionate number of fictional alumnae.” Listen closely and you can hear references to the College everywhere from Gossip Girl to Boardwalk Empire. Let’s take a look at some of our most notable fictional Mawrters:

Betty Draper Francis ’51 (Mad Men): I’ll start with the aforementioned Betty Draper. In season one of Mad Men, Betty was introduced as a former model hailing from Philadelphia’s Main Line. One imagines Betty’s time at Bryn Mawr might have included traditional teas and Ivy League mixers. The truest part of Betty’s origin story refers to her time studying abroad in Italy; study abroad is still a big part of the Bryn Mawr experience. Most avid viewers of Mad Men either love or hate this character. I agree that she’s imperfect but also written within the context of her time.Though Mad Men might not reflect a totally accurate view of the College, a real alumna did appear on the show. Maggie Siff ’96, portrayed recurring character Rachel Menken Katz during the show’s first two seasons.

Edna Krabappel (The Simpsons): In an episode titled “I’m Spelling as Fast as I Can,” Lisa Simpson dreams of attending one of the storied Seven Sister schools. As Lisa ponders her future, she imagines each Sister personified as a Greek goddess. Lisa didn’t have to go far to learn about Bryn Mawr—one of Springfield’s most recognized residents is a graduate. Edna Krabappel, Bart Simpson’s teacher and sometime nemesis, did her graduate study at Bryn Mawr. Though Mrs. Krabappel isn’t known for her sunny disposition (get it, crab apple?), she’s definitely an independent and assertive woman.

Lady Jaye ’81 (G.I. Joe): Lady Jaye holds the unique distinction of being the only Bryn Mawr alumna with her own action figure. She’s also presumably the only Mawrter who knows how to use a crossbow. Introduced in 1985 as part of the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero toy line, Lady Jaye was the G.I. Joe team’s specialist in covert operations.

Liz Lemon ’92 (30 Rock): So, here’s Bryn Mawr’s most well-known fictional Mawrter. Watch reruns of 30 Rock, and you’re sure to see several nods to the College. Last year, there was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shout out to the Owls in the Wool Bowl against Hiram College in Ohio. Liz definitely embodies some true Bryn Mawr characteristics, like quirkiness and a great sense of humor. It would be nice, though, if she encouraged her co-workers to participate in some self governance!

While it’s always fun to debate whether fictional Mawrters demonstrate characteristics of a Bryn Mawr woman, I still think that the best resources are real life alums—check out a recent blog post by a Bryn Mawr grad, who shares her reflections on Reunion Weekend.



Meet our newest admissions officers

If you’ve visited campus, you know that our students are the true experts on Bryn Mawr. When they graduate, they often volunteer with the admissions office to conduct interviews around the world. This summer, we’ve snagged two recent graduates to actually work with us as full-time admissions officers for the year.

Our two admissions fellows are Amanda and Liz, both members of the Class of 2012 and former tour guides. They’ll be blogging right here about their experiences as new grads–working their first jobs, seeing their Bryn Mawr education through the eyes of alumnae, and learning the ins and outs of college admissions. Stay tuned for their first posts!

Introductions: Meet Amanda and Liz

At Commencement, seniors reflect on how they’ve changed at Bryn Mawr

Before the graduating Class of 2012 left campus, we caught up with a few members to ask how their years at Bryn Mawr have changed their perspectives on the world and their roles in it.

Watch this video to hear what they said and to find out where they’re going from here:

To learn more about graduate school and career plans for members of the Class of 2012, check out the Bryn Mawr Now article, “2012 Graduates: Snapshot of a Group That’s Going Places.”

Spring has Sprung: It’s Time for May Day

It’s one of the most endearing debates on Bryn Mawr’s campus: what is the most beloved tradition on campus?  Ask any Mawrter and she’ll tell you her favorite. Ask any alumna and she’ll share her memories. For anyone who hasn’t been to campus or experienced a tradition firsthand, they’re most easily described as holidays that are only celebrated at Bryn Mawr.

Most of our traditions have been celebrated since the 1800s. Generations of Bryn Mawr women are connected through the traditions as they are intangible links between Bryn Mawr’s rich past and its vibrant present. There are four major traditions held throughout the academic year: Parade Night, where fresh women parade through campus and are welcomed into the community; Lantern Night, the October evening when students gather in the Cloisters and each new student receives her lantern; Hell Week, which only sounds terrifying and cannot be explained, just experienced; and of course, May Day.

There are those who insist that no tradition can hold a candle to Lantern Night (pun intended), but May Day is definitely a highlight of the academic year. Held at the end of classes and before the start of finals, May Day is an all-day celebration. Some of the festivities, like may pole dancing or hoop races, have been around for more than a century. In recent years, additions such as barbecues and concerts have been added to the fun.  A few constants remain—the day begins with a strawberry and cream breakfast and  students wear all  white. And May Day always concludes with a screening of  The Philadelphia Story on Merion Green; this classic  film stars Bryn Mawr alumna Katharine Hepburn.

May Day will allow students to look ahead to a well-deserved summer break, but it’s also one of the last campus gatherings for our Class of 2012. Here in the Admissions Office, we’re getting ready to say farewell to our awesome senior tour guides. Although saying goodbye to the seniors will be difficult (they are amazing!), we’re learning more about our incoming Class of 2016 and we’re very excited to have the next class join us this fall. But we won’t get too ahead of ourselves. This weekend, we just plan to join in the fun and celebrate.

Addressing the pink suede elephant in the room: Why a women’s college?

There’s no way around it — Bryn Mawr is a women’s college. No men attend Bryn Mawr as full-time undergraduate students. There are no football games or fraternity parties (or fraternities, for that matter). You’ll see guys on campus — Penn, Haverford, or Swarthmore students taking courses via our consortium or those pursuing a graduate degree.  But our undergrads are still all female. Out of nearly 4,000 colleges in the U.S., only about 50 are dedicated to educating women; we know that for some students this difference can provoke many questions. Over the next few months, we’ll have an ongoing discussion on the admissions blog about attending a women’s college. You’ll hear from Bryn Mawr students about their experiences and you’ll get a glimpse of life on campus. Let’s start the conversation by dispelling some of the most prevalent myths about women’s colleges:

A women’s college is like a finishing school.

Fact: Forget anything you saw in the movie Mona Lisa Smile; we love Ginnifer Goodwin and Kirsten Dunst, but the movie isn’t a primer for the modern Bryn Mawr experience. You won’t see anyone wearing white gloves or taking etiquette courses for credit. You will, however, find your peers wearing lab coats or spending a semester abroad.

Lots of women together= Drama.

Fact: This, unfortunately, is a cultural narrative around women. Women “can’t get along” and if you watch enough reality TV, you might actually believe this (we’re looking at you, Real Housewives). Bryn Mawr has a close knit community and Honor Codes that promote collaboration and personal empowerment over competition. We believe the only woman you should compete with is yourself and that your peers should inspire and encourage you.

A women’s college won’t prepare me for the real world.

Fact: We can’t think of a better place to help get you ready to make your mark on the world. The lessons you learn here will guide and inform you long after graduation. At Bryn Mawr, you will take an active role in creating or changing campus policies through our Self Governance Association by drafting resolutions based on what’s important to you. In the classroom, you will be challenged and challenge others. You can start clubs or take on experiential learning opportunities in the Philadelphia region through a Praxis placement. The skills acquired at Bryn Mawr ­— assertiveness, initiative, leadership, and using your voice for change — will undoubtedly serve you well.

There’s no social life at a women’s college.

Fact: At Bryn Mawr, we’ll provide the options and you’ll decide what to do with them. Any academic, extracurricular, or social opportunity you’d have elsewhere, you’ll have here. Bryn Mawr women take pride in being unique — there’s no one type of student here. We value diversity; women here represent every political view, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, socioeconomic status, race, and social interest.  Bryn Mawr’s campus is filled with bold, bright, and unabashedly true- to-themselves women. With a student body like ours, you’ll have a rich community to embrace you. Take note from Class of 1928 alumna, Hollywood legend, and style icon Katharine Hepburn — be absolutely fabulous in your own way and on your own terms.

Students admitted through Community College Connection profiled in The New York Times

Our new transfer program with local community colleges was mentioned in The New York Times this week. The story, Opening Up a Path to Four-Year Degrees, looks at the experiences of community college students, including nine Community College of Philadelphia students who have been admitted to Bryn Mawr this year.

We initiated Community College Connection in fall 2011 to recruit and enroll more transfer students from local community colleges. It is funded in part by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.

We are humbled by the experiences of applicants who consider Bryn Mawr and honored to be part of a program that opens up a liberal arts education to community college students. Of those admitted this year, more than half are first-generation college students, and potential majors range from biology and mathematics to English and history of art.