To students accepted into the Class of 2022:
Congratulations! We don’t know you, but by virtue of having been admitted to Bryn Mawr College, we know that you are intelligent, curious, and driven. You are accomplished both in and out of the classroom and ready to grow as a student and as a person even more at Bryn Mawr. We love Bryn Mawr, but for STEM students, the College falls short in a number of key areas that you should consider. Here are just a few:
- Gross, sometimes intentional, misinformation and misadvising in the Dean's Office (which regularly prevents students from majoring in their chosen fields and/or studying abroad)
- Severe resource shortage and limited course offerings in several STEM departments, particularly the Computer Science Department (zero to one elective offered per semester next year, declared CS majors being lotteried out of all CS courses)
- Racism in the classroom and in the Dean's Office (different advice given to students of color vs. white students)
We acknowledge that the College is investing in STEM. The College often talks about its renovations of the Park Science Building (which houses all STEM departments) and 4+1/3+2 Master’s or dual Bachelor’s programs with large universities like UPenn, CalTech, and Columbia, and we are appreciative of these efforts. However, we feel that the investments are more image-focused than student-focused, long-term rather than short-term.
Future students will experience much nicer facilities than current STEM majors ever will. They will technically have the option to pursue more dual degree programs like the 4+1/3+2 programs at Penn, CalTech, and Columbia. This and the renovation of the Park Science center are moot points, however, if a student is simply unable to pursue a degree in computer science at Bryn Mawr or Haverford simply because they couldn’t get into the courses necessary for the major.
Many science courses are waitlisted beyond any reasonable capacity forcing students to drop their majors or consider transferring colleges, in fear of not being able to graduate. The offering of dual degree programs are not beneficial if the person is unable to complete their undergraduate in the major, and if the Dean’s Office - even after many interventions - continue to dissuade students from pursuing these programs.
It remains to be the only member of the “Seven Sister” colleges to have a STEM major (Biology) as its most popular major. Ten years from now, it could be a leading liberal arts college for STEM students. However, the Class of 2022 will not benefit from the long-term investments the College has made. Certain STEM departments are stressed to the points where students choose to transfer or pick different majors in favor of graduating on time. While Bryn Mawr as an institution boasts its support of STEM, we as students struggle to fight for bare minimums necessary to make it to graduation.
We value Bryn Mawr’s openness in discussion and students, like ourselves, have felt empowered enough to bring these issues to the administration and attempted to work with them many times over the last five to seven years. At this point, we feel that we have exhausted our options, and now conclude that no matter how hard we try, the state of certain aspects of the STEM experience at BMC will not improve in the near future.
We don’t have answers for you. We do truly love Bryn Mawr. But we cannot tell you that the road for you ahead will be an easy one, especially if you choose to pursue a STEM field and we believe that you, prospective members of the Class of 2022, deserve to know about these problems before confirming your enrollment.
If you would like to learn more about these issues, feel free to reply to this post and we can either put you in touch with a current student or provide you with more information.