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Lesson 2: It’s not a girl’s school, it’s a women’s college.

May 2, 2011

My experience with a women’s college began like most: “ack…. an all girls school? No way!”  But once I got

Brenau University Pearce Auditorium, Gainesville, GA

there, my tune changed fast.  Now I make it my mission to prove how unique the women’s college experience is.  When you look at statistics, it’s obvious to see how I’ve been swayed.

First, according to a Hardwick Day study commissioned by the Women’s College Coalition, women’s college students are more invested in their campuses.  They are more likely to be involved in campus publications and student government (43% compared to 31% at coed liberal arts schools and 13% at public flagship universities); they hold a leadership position on campus twice as often as liberal arts school students and over three times more often than at flagship universities.  Addtionally, they usually live on campus for their entire undergraduate career (81% compared to just 34% flagship schools).

Not convincing enough?  I would like to argue that women’s colleges produce better people.  Women’s college grads are more than twice as likely to work in the non-profit sector than students at coed flagship universities are.  They are also more likely to consider contributing to their communities a priority, and more likely to contribute to foundations or community organizations.  Finally, they are more likely than their coed peers to participate in community service projects.

And they make better leaders.  First, their students have more experience than students at other colleges and universities.  A student at a women’s university is around 20% more likely to hold a leadership position than her friend at the flagship school.  She’s also attending a school that’s a member of the group of universities receiving the highest effectiveness rating in developing leaders–60% in the 1992-2002 test group compared to 19% for public coed universities.

But enough with statistics.  I see this everyday on my campus.  The women around me love Brenau; they are devoted to it unconditionally. Even the most prestigious organization on campus demands that its members only prove their loyalty and love for the university.  Their mission statement explains, “Everything a student does from her entrance into college, to serve the college…will bring her that much nearer the goal” of membership.  This organization is often referred to as “Highest Given Honor,” and I think that says a lot about women at Brenau.  There is no higher honor to a Brenau Woman than recognition for her investment in and service to her campus.

I see a budding passion for service in school mates too.  The recent Fill the Bus canned food drive organized by Brenau University Athletics is an incredible example of this commitment.  The Golden Tiger Athletic teams collected cans and donations for the Good News at Noon clinic and food bank.  They eagerly involved the rest of their Brenau community and the Gainesville community for the first annual event, who were more than happy to contribute.  The drive raised over 1,000 cans of food.  Good News at Noon had only expected a few hundred from the collection.

And of course, Brenau’s chock full of leadership opportunities.  Here, I see few women that don’t hold an office in one organization (or more).  And the proof is in our almnae.  The first woman to receive the Scientific Achievement Award, Roslyn Wallace, graduated from Brenau.  Two former congresswomen also graduated from Brenau: Florence Reville Gibbs and Lera Millard Thomas.

Helen Dortch Longstreet, a prominent figure in Georgia, and a political activist also attended Brenau, although in her time it was still known as the Georgia Baptist Female Seminary (no affiliation to the Baptist Church).  She is known for authoring bills allowing women to hold positions in the Georgia state government, spearheading one of the first environmental conservation movements when she fought the Georgia Power Company’s dam at Tallulah Falls (she unfortunately failed), and serving as a delegate  to the Progressive Party’s 1912 convention.

Now, after spending two years at a single-sex university, and studying up on the statistics of alumnae of schools similar to mine, I can’t understand how anyone wouldn’t want to attend a women’s university.  I’m also slightly embarrassed by my own shallow first impression of an “all girls school” when I started my college search.

But now I know better.  Brenau University isn’t for girls; it’s for grown ass women.

Desperately Seeking: Single Man With Funds

May 1, 2011

…. Well, only as an absolute resort.  In the meantime, I’m quieting the socialist in my head who is outraged that in the US students only get as much education as they can afford.  She’s getting loud and distracting me from my scholarship hunt.

So far, I’ve found two I qualify for:  a Servant Leadership program through my university, and the Ty Cobb Foundation Scholarship.  And I’ve applied for one through a local foundation in my hometown.

But the snag is, I’m applying for aid to pay for next year’s classes, classes I can’t even register for even now after school is out.  Why can’t I register for classes you ask?  Well I’m in a financial pickle, that is I’m $1,400 short for the 2010-2011 school year.  I’m in over my head and I’m barely treading water.  It’s hard for me to believe that I’m in such a dilemma.  After all, I’m a Brenau Scholar; it’s the highest non-athletic, four-year award a student in the Women’s College can win; it’s full tuition and a huge honor. And yeah, I get more than that, but this isn’t my resume.  How is it that with the ultimate academic award at my university, I may not get to return in the fall?  My stomach turned as I wrote that sentence.  For the first time, it feels real.  Really real.  And really wrong.  I try to picture myself at any other school–perhaps coed, lacking the beautiful pink architecture, with out the “Brenau Woman’s Spirit,” wanting quirky traditions, missing the Brenau Ideal.  The fact is that I am a Brenau Woman; I won’t be home anywhere else.

So I must find the solution.  I have already begun taking action to secure my future as a Brenau Woman.  I am pleading with administrators, hunting for aid, even advertising to edit papers on craigslist and taking paypal donations.  I am doing rather than dreaming.  I can and will return to my Brenau home.

Lesson 1: Be Selfish

May 1, 2011

Two years ago, when I graduated from high school, a close friend gave me the most insightful guidance an 18 year-old woman entering the world of higher education could gather.  She reminded me: be selfish, college is the last time in your life when you can look out for you alone.  Since that day, I’ve lived by those words; every choice I make comes down to how it will benefit me.  The wisdom she gave me has guided me down a path filled with opportunities that I greedily harvest for my own improvement.  After all, that’s what college is about–experiencing new things, making new friends (and new enemies), seeing new sights, scooping up every chance to learn, all in the name of a better, happier future.  At the end of my second year at Brenau University, I’ve had some miraculous harvests; my basket’s piled high with conferences, leadership, best friends, parties, heartache, lost friends, greek life, hangovers, inspirational mentors, changed majors, and enlightening professors.

My name is Chloe.  I am nearly twenty.  I believe more than anything else that college is my time to selfishly devour any lesson I can learn about myself, my peers, my passions, and my world.

Recently, I’ve been offered the chance to take a bulldozer to my winding, narrow path.  And that bulldozer comes in the form of studying abroad this summer.  At Cambridge University.  I have made it my mission to crank that machine, clear the brush that stands in my way, and make it to England.  I’ve decided to share the experience of clearing the path, what I find on the way and lessons I carry with me, like briars on my walking shoes, long after I return.