My First Time Reading Applications for Barnard
As a graduate of a women’s college and an advocate for women’s education across the world, I’m pleased to be fresh off my first wave of reading Early Decision applications at Barnard. Transitioning from my role as Admissions Counselor at my alma mater, Agnes Scott College, and returning to one of my many homes, New York City, has allowed me to engage with a bold and eclectic group of students who are passionate about the world around them.
One of the many hallmarks of the Barnard community is its diversity, a feature that stands out when reading applications. There is a wealth of diversity: a diversity of thought, a diversity of experience, a diversity of aspirations. Our applicants put their own individual spin on what being a Barnard student would look like – in the classroom, at Columbia, in NYC or - for some of our students - in their new home, the United States!
A few months ago, I had my first interaction with Barnard. Though I was no stranger to the Upper West Side, I was oblivious to the presence of a women’s college in NYC (when I was applying to college, I was living in another country and my "college guidance counselor" was Wikipedia and a few guide books). Here I was, walking around the "educational metropolis" of Morningside Heights trying to figure out the boundaries of our campus. Anyone new to the community will tell you it takes a few weeks to figure out the literal, and even more so, metaphorical boundaries between Barnard and Columbia, or between Barnard and New York City.
It many ways, this theme of boundaries has come forth in your applications: how you’ve experienced them, honored them, challenged them. How you want to continue to redefine them. Indeed, this is the main similarity that I’ve noticed between applicants to my alma mater and to Barnard: the sheer drive of the next generation of women to not just think about the life they want to live, but how they will simultaneously redefine the world for others. There is a palpable boldness among Barnard applicants. You engage with your environment, you grapple with complex social justice issues, you are globally aware and you define what it means to be a leader.
It was not that long ago that women were not even allowed admission to many higher education institutions. And here you are, applying to a number of colleges, getting excited about the array of majors available to you and the classes you’d like to take. You’re dreaming of the internships you’re going to have and the countries you're going to visit when you study abroad. You’re already opening doors for the next generation of learners, and you're teaching me something new with each application I read.