Scripps versus Bryn Mawr versus Barnard versus Vassar

Hello friends - anyone have insight into the main differences of curriculum/culture/vibe at these 4 schools? Already narrowed down to LAC (with a consortium or conection to other schools) and Women’s colleges (except Vassar) How would you decide between them? What is important to know?

Thank you!

It’s going to be hard to find someone who does have first-hand experiences at more than one college (other than transfer students, who clearly didn’t find their first choice optimal for them).

Best I can offer is some idea what’s unique at Barnard:

  • Yes, a women’s college. So you’ll experience an environment with (at minimum) female parity in all management and academic positions, and have the option to retreat to your all-female dorm whenever “you’re over” the co-ed drama.
  • Smaller class-sizes, closer access to Barnard professors, deans, and advisers.
  • But it’s also “Barnumbia”: fully integrated and sharing courses, facilities and offerings of the coed Columbia University - and also finding friends among classmates from the other three undergraduate colleges.
  • Manhattan location opens up many job and internship opportunities in any discipline.
  • Rather than a narrowly prescribed “core” curriculum, Barnard’s “Foundations” encourage taking courses over a broad area of topics. Instead of being stuck in “must take” courses that are of little interest to you or your possibly major, you’ll be able to choose something of interest, or possibly tangenting your major, from hundreds of courses that will also satisfy more than one “foundation” or distribution requirement.

On the other hand, it’s not a small LAC campus in a small college town, which might feel like one big sorority. It’s not going to be like your town’s high school, where everyone knows everyone in the same grade, and possibly even most of the other grades.

Barnard does have a cooperative and supportive environment - but it’s part of a large University, with several main libraries, many dining halls, and with a huge course catalogue. There’s likely going to be a good number of Barnard women in any of your classes, but during the day you probably won’t be running into familiar faces everywhere, at least after the first-year writing seminars and other first-semester courses.

My daughter, and her peers, thrived in exactly such an environment, and NYC, that fosters independence - but that might not be to everyone’s taste.