Critics and defenders of affirmative action analyze coming battle at Supreme Court. Key questions: How broad will ruling be? How will Justice Kennedy vote? How will heightened attention affect race relations on campus?
Conventional wisdom says Asian-American applicants face higher hurdle than others at elite colleges. Federal probe raises question of whether differential standards can be proven and -- if so -- would violate the law.
Siena College has announced that it will drop its SAT/ACT requirement for undergraduate admissions. “This progressive stance will better align the college with its commitment to a student-centered education,” said a statement from Brother F. Edward Coughlin, president of the college.
The viability of women’s colleges is one of those evergreen topics in higher education that has again come to the forefront with the announcement that Sweet Briar College will be closing at the end of this academic year. I am saddened to learn of this decision. But I am convinced, after 15 years of experience leading women’s colleges, that the closing of one college does not portend the fall of others. Hollins University and Sweet Briar have historically been very different colleges, each with its own unique set of challenges and opportunities. The real question is: Do women’s colleges still play an important role in higher education?
Informed by scientific research and our own experiences, we know that each person learns differently; the learning environment and how one “fits” are keys to individual success. For many students today, a women’s college provides distinctive opportunities and is the right fit.
What do women’s colleges offer that is different than coeducational institutions? Women’s colleges help young women find their voices, learn how to “lean in,” and develop the confidence to push back against the challenges so many women face in the workplace and in life. They are places where women find the support and encouragement they need to take risks, push boundaries and succeed personally and professionally.
There are more obvious considerations as well. The tensions and expectations, biases and pressures found in the mix of male and female students on coeducational campuses are much less in evidence at women’s colleges. Research suggests, for example, that students at women’s colleges feel less pressure to engage in binge drinking and other negative behaviors associated with campus life. They often feel more empowered to set high expectations and work to achieve them in the absence of negative judgments by male peers. They also have higher participation rates in leadership positions and extracurricular activities and are less likely to make career decisions that steer them to female-dominated jobs.
This research is reinforced by the many accounts of both students and alumnae of women’s colleges about enhancing learning skills, building confidence and keeping the friendships made on campus well into their adult lives.
Further, many women’s colleges claim some of the most loyal, engaged and dedicated alumnae in the nation. At Hollins, we emphasize alumnae engagement in internship placement and career mentoring for students as we counter the old boys' network with our new women’s connections. Further, 11 percent of our entering students last year were referred by alumnae, and we are well on our way to reaching our goal of 300 alumnae-referred students in this academic year. Women’s college alumnae are incredible resources and many of them are ready, willing and able to help today’s students succeed in a world where women’s parity has not yet been achieved.
From large research institutions to small liberal arts colleges, private universities to state university systems, and community colleges to vocational schools, choice is the hallmark of our system of higher education. Each provides a meaningful opportunity for finding that crucial fit.
At Hollins and other women’s colleges across the country, we are providing an important option for young women at a time when more and more of them are looking for the best educational environment in which to prepare for a workplace where women are still not paid as well as men, where they are not represented as equally and where, still too often, they are treated as sexual objects. Thus, I am certain women’s colleges still have a vital role to play in educating and inspiring tomorrow’s leaders. And Hollins, with a strong endowment, no debt, a growing applicant pool, a highly credentialed faculty and an incredibly loyal alumnae body, is well positioned to provide such an education for many more years to come.
Nancy Gray is the president of Hollins University in Virginia.
Kean University sent acceptance notices to 3,000 people this week whom the New Jersey institution did not intend to admit, at least at this time, NorthJersey.com reported. A few colleges or universities a year seem to make such mistakes, and Kean has apologized for the error. One unusual feature of this mistake was that the 3,000 included some people who should have received a notice that their applications were incomplete. Since some of them had decided not to apply to Kean at all and the others hadn't finished the process, some of those "accepted," had never actually applied.
The law schools of the State University of New York at Buffalo and the University of Iowa have announced that they will start accepting applications from some students without scores on the Law School Admission Test, Bloomberg reported. The American Bar Association recently loosened its LSAT requirement for law school accreditation and Buffalo and Iowa are using these new standards. The two law schools will consider applicants from their own undergraduate colleges based on their grades and other standardized tests, such as the GRE.