Swimming Against the Tide

How one female school thrives in a tough enviroment

By Aliya Chaudhry                                                                                                                                                       

It is a tough time for women’s colleges, but not for Bryn Mawr.

Despite the college’s small size, the declining popularity of women’s colleges and the rising price of college tuition, Bryn Mawr College is thriving, with application numbers increasing each year, according to Marissa Turchi, associate dean of admissions.Bryn Mawr logo

Bryn Mawr College is a small liberal arts college for women located outside Philadelphia. It has roughly 1,300 students, with around 370 students enrolling each year, according to the college’s website.

This year, the college enrolled its largest class in history. The class of 2019 had 389 students, according to the college’s website.

The acceptance rate, now at 38 percent, is decreasing, while enrollment is increasing, according to Peaches Valdes, dean of undergraduate admissions.

It is up to the admissions office to process the growing number of applications and select the students who get admitted.

Inside Admissions

Bryn Mawr College receives roughly 2,700 applications a year, according to the college’s website. These applications are read by an admissions team of 20 people.

According to Valdes, of those 20 admissions officers, five are part of outreach and recruitment, three work in campus visits and events and seven work in operations, which is the team that collects application materials.

Admissions officers work year-round. In the fall, they spend three to eight weeks traveling across the globe.

They spend November through March reading applications. In April, the admissions officers focus on admitted students as they visit campus, attend events and select which institution to attend.

Admissions officers travel in the spring to recruit the next class of students. In the summer, they reflect on the past year and start preparing for the next, along with doing more traveling and hosting more events.

Reading applications is just one of the admissions officers’ many responsibilities. But it’s an important one.

“Just like a student is diverse and multi-faceted, so is our process,” said Valdes, who graduated from Bryn Mawr in 1999.

When an application is submitted, it is given to the officer who handles the region the applicant comes from. Each admissions officer is assigned certain territories, and they are responsible for knowing information about schools in those areas and for contacting high school counselors there.

Thirty-five percent of Bryn Mawr’s students come from the Mid-Atlantic while 13 percent come from the West, according to the college’s website. The states from which Bryn Mawr received the most applicants in 2015 were California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York, Texas and Virginia, according to Turchi.

May Day is one of Bryn Mawr's many traditions

May Day is one of Bryn Mawr’s many traditions

Each application is read by two to four admissions officers. Some are brought to committee, where the admissions officers discuss the applications at greater length.

Valdes said, “We have multiple people looking at it so it gives us a good sense that when we bring a student to campus we know that we’ve done all the checks and balances in the sense of academic fit, social fit, potential for growth, desire to have a transformative experience.” Continue reading

Ghostly Selfies

Ghosts are hogging the picture in some selfies

By Ava Hawkinson


Only Peaches Geldof and her young son Astala were bathing in the bathtub. But the selfie, which Geldof took, revealed a third presence sitting right behind them.

The picture, taken in 2013, shows a small hand, which rests on Geldof’s shoulder and clasps a chunk of her long blonde hair.

These four bony fingers are neither transparent nor blurry. They look as real and alive as Geldof and her son.

Selfie Ghost 2 Geldof later uploaded the selfie to Instagram and captioned it, “Close up shot of the mystery ghost hand in the pic I took of Astala and me In the bath!! And no that isn’t my hand – one of mine was around his waist to hold him during the photo, the other holding the camera to take the shot. Also the hand is around my shoulder so totally weird angle if I did it myself!! How terrifying!! I am shitting myself! #haunted #ghost.”

Geldof claimed that the hand in the photo was that of a woman who died 100 years ago.

Apparently Geldof’s South East England home was built by a man and his pregnant wife, and the wife later miscarried and spiraled into a deep depression. She ended up drowning herself in the house’s bathtub, Geldof said, according to Huffington Post.

Rise of spirit selfies

Geldof’s selfie is only one of many selfies that have gone viral over recent years for documenting ghost-like presences. There are hundreds of “spirit selfies” all over the internet.

Earlier this year, a blurry face floated over a woman’s nose as she took a picture of her newly-dyed light blonde hair.

A couple weeks ago, Julian Eltinge, a famous actor who died in 1941, is said to have appeared in a selfie a couple took while dining at a New Orleans restaurant.

There are countless other selfies like these.

Since the late 1800s, people have claimed to capture ghosts lurking in the backgrounds of their photographs, but this claim was never as widespread as it is today.

It seems that every week a new picture becomes viral which has a ghostly presence in it. And, strangely enough, most of these pictures are selfies.

Continue reading

Blended Learning


By Emilia Otte

In the high-tech atmosphere of today’s universities, the chalkboard still has a place.

Even with the rise of its fiercest competitor to date, MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), studies continue to show that face-to-face learning is more effective than online instruction.

However, educators are realizing that there is no reason why they can’t bring the rivaling models together for the overall good of higher education. This combination of a traditional classroom with online materials creates “blended learning”.

After blended learning had some success at large universities, administrators at Bryn Mawr College, a small liberal arts women’s college in Pennsylvania, wondered if the system could apply equally well to an institution like theirs.

In the 2011-2012 school year, Bryn Mawr received a $250,000 grant from the NGLC (Next Generation Learning Challenges). In fall of 2011, the faculty launched 18 blended introductory STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) courses. Students in lower-level biology, chemistry, and geology courses took online quizzes, watched online tutorials, and practiced basic math skills needed for the class. Professors did not have to reduce time spent in the classroom- and none of them did.

At the end of the semester, 93.5 percent of the students in the blended courses earned a merit grade (2.0 or better), versus 83 percent of students in traditional STEM classes. The average grades for the biology, chemistry, and geology courses were significantly higher than they had been in the past.

Bryn Mawr President Kim Cassidy

Bryn Mawr President Kim Cassidy

The next year, liberal arts colleges across the country developed blended courses on their own campuses. Macalester College used computer-based games and experiments for an introductory economics course. Oberlin College incorporated Skype sessions into one of its Spanish classes. A professor at Lafayette College “flipped” an introductory statistics class -students watched the lectures online and used class time to work through problem sets.

In total, according to the NGLC study’s official website, 25 small liberal arts colleges created over 40 blended learning courses for the 2012-2013 school year. None of the Bryn Mawr professors teaching the original 18 courses stopped using blended methods. This more than doubled the total number of blended courses offered at liberal arts colleges in a single year, and the trend continues to spread in small colleges across the United States. Continue reading

The Red Lips Project


By Kyra Sagal      

Since September, Aditi Kulkarni, 19, at Swarthmore College, has been photographing women wearing red lipstick and asking them: What makes you feel powerful?

“As a photographer, I have always been fascinated by the imagery of red lips. To me, red symbolizes power; it is a sign of strength and courage” said Kulkarni.

Thus, a project known as Dark Skin Red Lips, created by Karyn Washington, where women of color posted pictures of themselves wearing red lipstick, began. Kulkarni said, “These pictures were just one way in which women were able to fight back the beauty norms and instead revel in their own ideals.” The Dark Skin Red Lips project inspired Kulkarni to create her own project, the Red Lips Project, over the summer.

One photo on the Facebook page features Osazenoriuwa Ebose, a senior at Swarthmore College, staring assertively into the camera. Accompanying the picture, her quote says “I wear my dignity; I share my love freely. I feel fear for the future, but I do not shy from it. I feel powerful because I know my worth and the worth of others around me. I feel powerful because I respect my past. I feel powerful because I am Osazenoriuwa Osamede Ebose; there is none other like me in the world.”Red Lips

Kulkarni’s project mirrors work being done by photographers/journalists around the country who are capturing the images and words of people they encounter to try to tell larger stories about their lives.

One of the first and most influential of these is Humans of New York (HONY). In 2010, Brandon Stanton created HONY, intending to photograph 10,000 individuals and eventually plot their location and photograph on a map. Then, Stanton began collecting quotes, and the blog became something different. He says on his website, “With over eight million followers on social media, HONY now provides a worldwide audience with daily glimpses into the lives of strangers in New York City.”

Yasmin Gentry, a journalist for The Quad at BostonUniversity, said, “Since HONY’s birth in the summer of 2010, Stanton has inspired others to take his lead. Photographers capture citizens in cities like Tehran, Tel Aviv, Sydney, Boston, Toronto, and Oslo.”

Just like HONY, Kuljkarni’s project is beginning to spread to other cities. Her Campus at American University, an online magazine, held a Red Lips Project event on campus November 11 after finding Kulkarni’s blog online. After reaching out to Kulkarni and expressing interest in holding an event, Her Campus asked students to wear red lipstick and “tell us what makes you feel powerful.” According to Kulkarni, the event was successful.

Alex Sanyal, 19, was one of the first subjects of Kulkarni’s photos. She said, “The Red Lips project is an inspiration, as are Aditi and Madeline – the faces behind it. They are inspiring girls across campuses all over the northeast to empower themselves and to appreciate themselves.”

The Red Lips Project is a movement of female empowerment, and it is only one of many projects focusing on people and their lives in the photos. Many photographers have been inspired by the “Humans of” projects, which photograph people in a specific area or community reveal the diverse and unique perspectives of individuals. Continue reading