Right now it looks like I’m choosing between Mount Holyoke and Brandeis. I’m interested in pursuing a double major/ major-minor situation with International Relations and Education. I’m not really interested in a huge party scene, and I’ve heard both campuses are pretty chill with relatively friendly and engaged student bodies which is what I’m looking for. I also am much more interested in a cooperative as opposed to a competitive academic environment and I really value having small class sizes and engaged professors. I really, really want to study abroad so the strength of study abroad programs could be a deciding factor for me. I don’t particularly care about location in terms of Brandeis having easier access to cities.
Pros: It’s a women’s college, which I think would foster a really excellent campus community. It’s also part of a consortium for Amherst, UMass, Smith, and Hampshire so I could take classes or join clubs at any of those schools. The dining and dorms are supposed to be way better than Brandeis, and the campus is certainly more appealing. It also has a varsity riding team, and I really like the idea of continuing to ride seriously in college. I also love the traditions at Mount Holyoke, and the Princeton review gave it the #1 spot for professors which makes me excited about classes there. Based on a quick google search, I also think Mount Holyoke may have a slightly stronger IR program, but I could be totally off.
Cons: It’s a women’s college, and while I’ve been to all girls summer camps, I’ve never really experienced a strong majority female community for any extended period of time. I’m also certainly not going to college to date, but it might be nice to have the option later without having to go to hang out at a different school in the consortium. It also seems to me like Mount Holyoke’s study abroad program is weaker than Brandeis’s, as financial aid won’t transfer for a study abroad semester. You can apply for a Laurel Fellowship to cover costs, but that is only for select programs which could limit my options. They also don’t have an education major, but they have different two minors and a “curriculum to career” education path so I don’t think it would be a huge deal.
Pros: I have heard great things about Brandeis’s campus community in terms of being friendly and not cutthroat. I also think Brandeis might be a slightly better fit for me academically given how popular double majors are on campus (50% of students double major, I believe.) I also believe that Brandeis is generally considered a better school, although I’m not totally sure how accurate that is. Brandeis also does have an education studies major, which sounds like an excellent path for me because I’m interested in education policy. From what I’ve gathered, Brandeis also has a stronger study abroad program than Mount Holyoke.
Cons: I was accepted as a midyear (January start) to Brandeis, and I’m not thrilled with it. I don’t love either of their midyear study abroad programs (London or Florence.) If I’m going to study abroad, I want it to be a program I’m genuinely excited about. I don’t want to use one of my study abroad semesters on something I don’t love. I already have too many dual enrollment SU credits to transfer, so it wouldn’t make sense to take community college classes. With the pandemic I’m kind of limited so I’d really just have to stay at home and work. Brandeis also isn’t known for having the best campus/food/dorms which isn’t a huge deal but something to consider. They also don’t really have a riding team (they have a club, but nothing compared to Mount Holyoke’s program) which again isn’t a huge deal but something to think about.
If anyone has any insight into either school or any advice on deciding, I’d really appreciate it. Thanks!