Choosing Classes

From Andrea Lirio

 

As the fall semester slowly comes to an end, students at Bryn Mawr start planning for spring classes, which run from late January to late April. While the process is stressful, there are many opportunities to meet with deans, THRIVE mentors, peer mentors, and professors to discuss potential courses and majors that you’re interested in pursuing.

What really makes the course registration process so difficult is the number of courses we have to choose from! There are so many course options at Bryn Mawr, especially with the consortium! As a student at Bryn Mawr, I can enroll in classes at Haverford College, Swarthmore College, and the University of Pennsylvania. Bryn Mawr makes it easy to enroll and simple to get to each school with the Blue Bus to Haverford College and Swarthmore College and a convenient location near the SEPTA train line to the University of Pennsylvania. Check out our Instagram stories to see how easy it is!

Being at a liberal arts college, you have the ability to study so many subjects – arts, biological and physical sciences, social sciences, humanities, language, mathematics, literature, etc. Bryn Mawr also encourages students to take at least one Quantitative Methods, Critical Interpretation, Cross Cultural, Inquiry into the Past, Scientific Investigation, and foreign language course. These make up most of our requirements which can be found here.

While I didn’t appreciate it at first, having to fulfill the graduation requirements forces me to take classes out of my comfort zone, which I’m actually grateful for. Without the graduation requirements, I couldn’t see myself taking a math, science, or language course. I’m glad Bryn Mawr encourages us to take courses in different fields; I believe all of my course work will add to a more well-rounded background and education that I can apply to my future career.

Overall, everyone is extremely supportive and helpful throughout the course registration process. If you have any questions, both students and faculty are open and willing to help. Bryn Mawr provides a great support system to explore majors, a diverse mix of courses, and forces students to go out of their comfort zone and take courses within different fields.

Without further ado, my schedule!

Spring 2019 course schedule

I am guilty of picking classes that are later in the day from 11 AM or 12 PM. It’s really important for me to be able to get enough sleep! I also strongly believe in getting breakfast every day so I make sure I always have time for it. I think this schedule is perfect for me. I like having heavier days at the beginning of the week and lighter days toward the end. I’m really happy with my schedule!

Spanish – Advanced Grammar Through Culture: This semester, I took Intermediate Spanish for the language requirement. Next semester, I’m hoping to fulfill the requirement through the next level course.

Economics – Introduction to Economics: Hoping to be an International Studies major, I’m planning to take the Introduction to Economics course to do an overview and prepare for more advanced courses. Afterward, I’m hoping to take more in-depth courses like Economic Development, Labor Economics!

Anthropology – Introduction to Cultural Anthropology: This semester, my ESEM involved many ethnography readings, which I really enjoyed. I’m hoping to learn more about anthropology and add a course that goes toward the International Studies major.

Urban Studies – Research Methods: After taking the Introduction to Urban Studies class this semester, I’m interested in learning more about research methods. I’m interested in learning more about statistics and data in an applied setting. This also counts toward my QM requirement!

Finding Your Why

From Andrea Lirio

 

As the end of fall semester nears, one of my first college courses is also ending. The THRIVE seminar, a course that all first-years take to aid in the transition to college, is just 10-weeks long but we’ve covered a lot. We’ve discussed time management, mental health, the power of confrontation, and any questions we’ve ever had through our transition into college. In our most recent class, they gave us a worksheet with “Kick-Ass Questions About Life” for us to consider as we prepare to start our second semester. Here are a few of the questions:

  1. If you had a chance to be known for something special or unique, what would it be? How do you feel you contribute (or could contribute) to society?
  2. What is your biggest fear? What’s the thing that scares you the most in life?
  3. How would you define success? And what would success look like for you?
  4. Who do you want to help? Who would you like to inspire? Whose lives would you like to change?
  5. What do you REALLY want for your life?

The list of questions goes on (you can see them at the bottom of this post), and I didn’t know my personal answers to most of them. What did I REALLY want for my life? What would I want to be known for? Who would I want to inspire? I couldn’t bring myself to answer them. While I’ve thought about my future, I had never thought about it in those terms. Looking around the room, I wasn’t the only person who wasn’t able to answer all of the questions. I sat in shock. I didn’t know what I wanted to do exactly yet. I didn’t know what I wanted in life yet. These questions are hard for anyone to answer – a mother or father, a writer, a scholar, a doctor – let alone a first-year college student.

I still don’t have the answer to all of the questions, but that is ok! Normally, not having everything figured out causes stress; trust me, I know all about it. I try to plan my life to a T, but I’ve realized I can’t plan everything because, even if I do, life happens and my plan doesn’t go perfectly anyway. While it’s much easier said than done, I’ve tried to be better about managing the uncertain. The fact is life is uncertain and we have to roll with it. It would be nice if we could answer all of these questions confidently, but it’s natural to not have perfect answers that will reflect the future. The best part about asking these questions is that is gets your mind moving. Where would I like to be in 5 years? 10 years? What would I like to see myself doing? How does what I’m hoping to achieve relate to what I’m doing right now? I’m genuinely glad that my THRIVE has provided a space to ask these questions and begin answering them. We all came to the same conclusion that life is uncertain, but you should think of everything you do with some sort of purpose. How does what I’m doing now add to what I may do in the future?

I’m also glad and relieved that Bryn Mawr has provided a space where it’s ok to be uncertain. I wish someone had told me that more in high school. I wish someone told me that I couldn’t plan everything earlier on in life and then continued to remind me of that. For example, the college process is something I planned for forever. Where would I go to school? What college had the best courses for me? Where would the best environment be? I wish someone just sat me down and said, “Hey, finding the right place for you is a process, applying for different colleges is a process, picking a college is a process, living is a process, everything is a process.” This sounds extremely corny and cliché but here it goes: Everything is so uncertain, and it’s the uncertainties that make life so amazing.

 

Using this exercise to consider all the things that are important to me.

While I don’t have the exact answer to define what my why is, I have the right tools to get me there. Take a look at the questions! They are amazing guiding questions to get your brain working. Keep asking questions!

Continue reading

Women Empowering Women

From Andrea Lirio

 

Recently, I had the amazing opportunity to attend the NJ Conference for Women through LILAC, Bryn Mawr’s Leadership, Innovation, and Liberal Arts Center that helps students forge connection between their work in college and beyond. I signed up with the interest to learn more about women in business, and I left with more than I had expected.

No conference is complete without swag!

At the conference, we had a day full of workshops and speeches from amazing women in different fields. While Bryn Mawr always teaches us about women’s empowerment and aiming high, it was amazing to hear the same message from working women from all over the country. Every speech was inspiring and moving!

View of the stage.

The conference wouldn’t have been possible without alum Sharon Harshbarger-Krucera ’90. She was eager to learn more about each of us and give us her insights. We compared dorm rooms and classes with her; it was amazing hearing about her experience at Bryn Mawr and how she went from a History major to a Financial Advisor at Morgan Stanley. She encouraged us to learn more about anything that interests us and assured us that we’d find something we connected with soon enough. This message was a key takeaway from all of the speakers.

Throughout the day, all of the powerful and influential women shared their story: what state they were in after school, how they were completely lost at one point, and how they ended up where they are now. Their stories were amazing, especially as I struggle with the unknown and uncertain. They reminded us over and over again that it’s ok to be uncertain and that we need to take everything as it comes to find something that we’re passionate about.

Keynote speaker Lisa Tanzer, President of Life is Good, ended the event and brought this message home. Her speech and delivery were amazing. If you don’t know Life is Good’s message, you should take some time now to do a quick Google search. Lisa explained how her friend from high school called her and asked her for a favor right after college. This favor grew into what is now known as Life is Good and the Life is Good Kids Foundation. Her lesson: You never know what a small favor may lead to.

Lisa also reminded us to stop taking things for granted. Instead of complaining about how you have to go to school or have to go to work or have to go grocery shopping, think about it as you get to go to school, you get to go to work because you have a job, and you get to go grocery shopping. Changing comments like that in your life, will change the way you think of what you have.

Group photo with keynote speaker Lisa Tanzer, President of Life is Good, at the NJ Conference for Women

What all of the amazing speakers summarized is that nothing in life is entirely planned and perfect. Embracing uncertainty is the first step to finding yourself. I loved being able to hear from so many amazing mentors in the room. I would have never been able to have this experience without LILAC or Sharon. I wanted to thank them both. I also wanted to thank the speakers for telling their stories and inspiring the next generation. I can’t wait to apply everything I’m absorbed and learned into my academic and post-academic life.

Need to Know: Study Abroad (Part 2)

From Celine Chen

 

At the risk of sounding melodramatic, my semester abroad was the best time of my life. I studied abroad in Stockholm, Sweden from January to May 2018 through DIS. I knew I wanted to study abroad in Europe since I had never been and it’s a great opportunity to have easy access to travel to other European countries.

Stortorget — the famous square in the middle of Old Town, Stockholm.

Now, I’m sure many of you are asking “what’s the benefit of study abroad?

  1. Independence. Not only did I gain independence being so far from home, but I also learned to navigate a new country and explore landmarks, local treasures, and other countries on my own. When I first arrived in Sweden, I was so nervous about figuring out the train system (since it’s really extensive and my route to school involved a transfer at the central station). But by the end of my semester, I was taking the train by myself and checking out local cafes and museums based on recommendations I found online.
  2. Cultural knowledge and understanding. We live in a global world and I think it’s so valuable to gain a new perspective on not only the country you study abroad in but also of the United States. You learn so much being immersed in a new culture and participating in local activities. You also learn a lot about the worldview of where you are and how they view the United States and American society.
  3. Perspective. Sweden really values the idea of lagom roughly translated to “just enough; not too much, and not too little.” I really loved this concept, especially when you compare it to life in America that is so focused on over-consumption and making everything grand. Swedes apply lagom to all aspects of life: fashion, food, decorating a home, the way you spend your time, and more!
  4. Personal growth. (read on!)

With friends at a lookout point in central Stockholm.

The subway station near campus. The Stockholm subway system is the world’s longest art exhibit (110 km long!)

I feel that study abroad was truly a life-changing experience. I gained so much perspective on life by immersing myself in Swedish culture. It also helped me open up to the world around me and encouraged me to disregard hesitation and, instead, make the most of each moment and experience.

I explored Stockholm so much more than I’ve explored Philly. Your study abroad GPA does not transfer back to Bryn Mawr, just the credit. So while I was taking a full course load of five courses, essentially my classes were pass/fail which allowed me to focus on personal growth, and taking the time to explore my surroundings instead of perfecting every piece of work that I was turning in. Let me share some of my favorite personal growth moments.

  • Most Spontaneous Moment: As I mentioned briefly in my previous post, I ended up hopping on a last-minute trip to Copenhagen in the middle of the semester; something that I would have shied away from previously by worrying about all the logistics. Two of my friends had already booked their plane tickets and an Airbnb and asked if anyone was interested in joining them. Three days before the trip, I bought my plane ticket and decided to join them, having no official plan for the three days we were spending there. It ended up being so cold in Copenhagen, but I had so much fun exploring Nyhavn and The Little Mermaid, and eating one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had.

Twilight view of Arkosund.

Arkosund

  • Favorite Cultural Experience: I knew I really wanted to meet locals, but it was going to be a challenge because I’m a shy person who doesn’t like to “make the first move” and Swedes are known for being reserved. I ended up befriending a local by joining a local soccer club and we became close friends. I went over to her house all the time and basically got the experience of living in a homestay and observing Swedish family roles even though I was living in an apartment with other American students from the program. My friend was even nice enough to take me to her family’s summer house!  I figured I’d never have the opportunity to see a Swede’s summer house, so I took her up on her offer. Since I didn’t have class one Wednesday, we took off in the middle of the week to the “countryside,” two hours from Stockholm, and stayed the night before returning for my Thursday class!
  • Best Travel Story: My program offered pre-arranged trips where you pay an additional fixed price that covers housing, flights, and most meals for a variety of travel tours. I participated in a culinary tour of Southern France and had so much fun! The trip was also available to the DIS students who were studying abroad in Copenhagen, so I was basically going on a trip with complete strangers since only three other students from Stockholm went. I was a bit nervous about trying to make friends and spending so much time with people I barely knew for five days straight. I was pleasantly surprised when everyone was so nice. I became even closer to the Stockholm students, and made many friends from the Copenhagen program. The trip involved lots of bonding over delicious food, wine tastings, and us breaking off into our own groups to explore Nice!

Hanging out in Nice, France.

 

I could write about study abroad forever. A lot of the experiences I had while abroad helped me come out of my shell and open myself up to being more outgoing and not worrying over uncontrollable elements of my life. It really changed my perspective and attitude coming back to Bryn Mawr too! In previous years, I would stress out over school work and would spend more and more weekends on campus rather than taking a break and exploring Philly. This year, I’m trying to go into Philly more and take advantage of my time on the East Coast to discover all it has to offer. I also decided to take a class at UPenn now that I’m somewhat used to commuting to get to class. It’s also another great opportunity to take some time away from campus and put myself into new and potentially uncomfortable situations.

I would definitely recommend studying abroad to anyone who even has the slightest interest in it! I’ve also attached some honorable-mention pictures of my adventures abroad 🙂

One weekend I went to an art museum outside of Stockhom that was on its own island!

 

We went to Geneva on a class trip to visit public health organizations like WHO.

Went to see a free Macklemore performance at Stockholm’s amusement park, Grona Lund.

Need to Know: Study Abroad (Part 1)

From Celine Chen

 

As a high schooler, I knew that I wanted to study abroad in college. Both of my siblings studied abroad and could not stop raving about how much fun they had and how it broadened their view of the world. I also figured that study abroad is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity when you can be a young, carefree college student exploring a new country and city bonding with others going through the exact same stage in their life.  Although my program was based in Stockholm, Sweden, I had the chance to travel to Paris and meet-up with my aunt while she was on vacation, vacation to London with my sister, and hop on a last minute trip to Copenhagen with some friends!

So what should you know before studying abroad?

Questions to ask your prospective college:

If you’re like me and study abroad programs really factored into the decision of what college to chose, here are some questions that are important to ask your prospective college:

How is study abroad funded? At Bryn Mawr, you pay the price of tuition (not room and board since you aren’t living here) to Bryn Mawr and they are responsible for paying your study abroad program or university.

How many and what kinds of programs do they offer? There are different types of study abroad programs (3rd party programs, American universities abroad, or directly through a university). Each type of program offers a different experience so it’s important to understand your options. Get a gauge of the different programs and what works best for you.

  • 3rd party programs do the most “hand-holding.” They usually help you find (or provide) housing, help with obtaining a visa, have support networks like homestays, or affiliations with local clubs you can join. (Ex: DIS, IES, IFSA, etc.).
  • American Universities abroad are typically “sister” schools that have locations abroad. That have some “hand-holding” since there is a lot of support at the American university and the institution follows the American college credit system. Ex: (Lewis and Clark College in Strasbourg, Temple University Rome, etc.).
  • Direct study at an international university requires the most independence, especially during the application process. Sometimes international universities will help with your visa, but you are usually responsible for finding housing, etc. (Ex: University of Melbourne, London School of Economics, Oxford).

Studying abroad as a STEM major:

“There’s a stereotype that STEM majors can’t study abroad, but that’s not the case here.” That’s a common phrase you hear when you ask different colleges about study abroad, but it’s important to hear the details of what they have to say.

At Bryn Mawr, it depends on which field in STEM you decide to major in, how far in advance you know you want to study abroad, and how many course requirements you have for your major.  When looking at colleges, it’s a good idea to ask about popular study abroad programs for your major of interest (since it’s likely that students are getting credit towards their major for courses they took through this program).

Otherwise, plan your courses so you complete all of the major and general education requirements while you are at Bryn Mawr so you can complete general course credits while you are abroad.

You also have to consider that you might study abroad at an “unconventional” time. Bryn Mawr is pretty strict about only allowing juniors to study abroad because they want Most students go abroad for the fall semester of their junior year. For certain majors at Bryn Mawr, such as math, it is common to go abroad in the spring because of the way classes are offered. Some courses that are required for the major are only offered in the fall, so unless you take upper level classes your sophomore year you may end up going abroad in the spring. This didn’t end up being a problem for me because there are still plenty of people who are abroad in the spring, so you’ll make lots of new friends and you are not alone in missing your spring semester at Bryn Mawr.

For any and all questions regarding meeting requirements before, after, or while you’re abroad you can ask your major advisor, dean, the office of study abroad, or the registrar! Also, past study abroad students are a great resource – that’s what really solidified my choice to study abroad with the program that I did!

Choosing a Study Abroad Program:

This is an article I wrote for Her Campus talking about different ways to narrow down what study abroad program to choose (within the context of being a student at Bryn Mawr).

Hope this helped! For more information on study abroad check out the Bryn Mawr study abroad website and here for specific information regarding financial aid.

 

Napkin Notes: Having a Say in the Smallest Way

From Andrea Lirio

 

At Bryn Mawr, students are encouraged to communicate with Dining Services through napkin notes — suggestions to improve the dining experience.  Each dining hall has a Napkin Note board that Dining Services staff respond to daily. If I’m being entirely honest, when I joined campus I thought napkin notes didn’t work; I thought it was something the school put in place to make it look like students had a say when in reality they wouldn’t take it into account. Very early on into the year, however, I learned that we do have a say!

The Napkin Note board at Erdman Dining Hall decorated for Halloween/fall!

One night, I sat with my friends in New Dorm Dining Hall after dinner. While eating our soft serve ice cream, I said, “Why don’t we have Oreos? They’d be a great topping on this.” We all agreed that Oreos would be a great addition. Then it dawned on me, “Why don’t we put in a napkin note?” We stared at each other for a bit, uncertain if writing our request would even work.

We finally nodded in agreement; one of my friend’s took out a pen while I took a napkin out of the napkin dispenser on the table. I wrote, “Hi there! Thank you so much for another great meal! I was wondering if it would be possible to add Oreos to the soft serve topping bar. I think it’d be a great addition (and also awesome for Oreo milkshakes). Thank you again. AL ’22.”

The next day, we took a look at the napkin note we wrote while putting away our dishes. Someone had signed their name on my napkin note! Signing a napkin note is like voting for that idea. Every meal, I noticed more names. While I was happy to see other students supporting my contribution, I still worried that Dining Services wouldn’t take the request seriously. A few days later, though, the napkin note was gone and there were Oreos placed next to the soft serve machine! I vividly remember feeling successful and important. Not only did I voice an opinion other students also supported, the school heard me and implemented the change. I couldn’t believe it. I did a little happy dance with my friends who had drafted the napkin note with me; and in celebration, we all enjoyed vanilla soft serve with crushed Oreos on top.

A week or so later, my friends and I realized we’d love to have regular granola added to the yogurt bar and Nutella added to the bread section. After our first success story, we decided to leave a few requests for granola and Nutella. Days later, we found both!

While this is an extremely simple example, it goes to show that students have a say in what they have on campus. Not only do we have the right and ability to suggest what we’re interested in, our school departments take our thoughts into account and do what they can to accommodate us, in the dining hall and beyond.

Lantern Night 2018

Each fall, the Bryn Mawr community gathers in the Cloisters to welcome the first-years into our academic community during one of our most hallowed traditions, Lantern Night. Lit only by the light of student lanterns and surrounded by the crisp autumn air, this tradition has an ethereal quality that is hard to explain. Students don black robes and sing Greek hymns, swaying their lanterns back and forth. First-year students are entrusted with their own lanterns, symbols of wisdom and knowledge, from sophomores. The ceremony revolves around the idea of passing knowledge from generation to generation.

Even though there is a special emphasis on first-year students, everyone benefits from Lantern Night. We asked Andrea ’22 and Celine ’19 to share their thoughts about the tradition.

Q: What were your expectations for Lantern Night?

Andrea: I didn’t know what to expect other than that I knew I would come home with a lantern at the end of the night. Lantern Night, for me, meant I was officially part of the community. I’ve completed my first quarter of college and now I’m starting the second. This event marked a transition from being a brand new first-year to being a full-fledged college student. 

Andrea ’22 getting ready for Lantern Night!

Celine: I feel like it will feel really surreal that the next lantern night will be introducing the green class (my class color). Four years doesn’t seem like a long time, but every year I see the exchange of what the other Bryn Mawr classes represent (light blue is 2016 and 2020, red is 2017 and 2021, dark blue is 2018 and 2022) but I’ll never see the next green class because I’ll have graduated!

Celine ’19 receiving her lantern as a first-year in 2015.

Q: What was your favorite part of Lantern Night?

Andrea: My favorite part was lining up and walking into the Cloisters itself because I didn’t know what to expect. I knew I would go home with a lantern, but I didn’t know what awaited me within the Cloisters. The most beautiful part was standing in the Cloisters under the starry sky. It was a picture-perfect event – runners bringing lanterns to each student in the dark, upperclassman singing a song in the background, and being surrounded by my class.

Dark blue lanterns await the Class of 2022.

Celine: My favorite part of lantern night is definitely seeing all the lanterns lit up in the dark. The first-years all line up and as each lantern gets individually delivered to each first-year, the group is slowly illuminated. Lantern Night also features all of Bryn Mawr’s class colors, but the first years’ color is really emphasized to celebrate them and welcome them to campus.

Q: How did you feel after Lantern Night?

Andrea: I felt at home. Lantern Night is amazing because it brings everyone together. Not only are you surrounded by your entire class through the process, but you’re also welcomed by upperclassman, which is extremely heart-warming. The entire experience is magical – receiving your lantern, taking pictures with your friends outside of Taylor, and waiting for your lantern’s light to finally go out. I genuinely can’t believe I’m here at my first year of college. I’m officially a Bryn Mawr College student.

Andrea holds her dark blue lantern. Anassa kata!

Celine: There’s a moment at the end of lantern night where seniors walk through a tunnel of underclassmen. It’s sort of a way for people to send off the senior class and celebrate their last year at Bryn Mawr – that was probably the point in the night where it really hit me that I’ll be leaving Bryn Mawr. It also hit me that I’ll really miss how Bryn Mawr traditions bring the community together and create a really special bond among those who have/are attending the college.

Q: What role do you think Lantern Night plays in the Bryn Mawr community?

Andrea: On Lantern Night, hundreds of us first-years gathered in the Cloisters to receive our lanterns, to be welcomed into the Bryn Mawr community. Lantern Night symbolizes the passing of the light of knowledge from one class to the next. This year, Class of 2022, my class, received dark blue lanterns with notes saying, “Welcome Home,” attached with dark blue strings. Lantern Night brings everyone together. Every year, the first-year class is welcomed, and it’s amazing to think about how many students have worn the black robes before you, how many classes Lantern Night has welcomed, and how next year, you’ll be welcoming a new class yourself. It’s an amazing continuous circle.

Celine: Lantern night represents the passing of the light of knowledge to each new class at Bryn Mawr. The lantern is also one of the many iconic symbols of Bryn Mawr (see the picture below of sophomore year me posing with a giant Bryn Mawr lantern during our Defy Expectations picnic). It’s also a really special tradition that simultaneously welcomes the first-years to the Bryn Mawr community and says goodbye to seniors as they begin many of their “lasts” at Bryn Mawr.

Celine and a giant lantern at the Defy Expectation picnic.

Click here to see more photos from Lantern Night 2018. Anassa kata, Class of 2022. Welcome home!

Financial Aid Tips and Tricks from the Director of Financial Aid

From Susan Chadwick

 

As a new season of financial aid applications begins, my phone starts to ring. Suddenly, there are questions about changes in income, how retirement should be reported on the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student), and what an FSA ID is used for in the process. While financial aid applications can appear daunting at times, there are many tips and tricks that can help you along the way.

Here are my top tips to successfully navigate the FAFSA and CSS Profile, College Board’s application used by many schools, including Bryn Mawr, to apply for institutional need-based aid.

  1. Know your deadlines! When are all these forms due? For Bryn Mawr, financial aid applications are due the same day as admission applications for prospective students. For current students, the deadline is April 15, 2019 – but the sooner all the items are submitted, the quicker you will receive your financial aid award. Sooner is always better than later!
  2. Make a list of what is required. Not sure what we need? Bryn Mawr requires four main items for a financial aid application: the FAFSA (for US citizens and permanent residents), CSS Profile (all students), 2017 Federal Tax Return with schedules, and W2s. There may be a few additional items we need, but if this applies to you we’ll let you know through BiONiC, the Bryn Mawr student portal. You will receive information about BiONiC once you start an application to Bryn Mawr.
  3. Create your FSA ID. Before you can complete the FAFSA, you need to create an FSA ID. This is a username and password that will be used to file and sign your FAFSA, as well as complete federal paperwork for student loans. The student AND at least one parent need to create an individual FSA ID tied to their personal information. Each FSA ID will be linked to your legal name, birth date, and social security number. You will also need a personal email address. DO NOT use an email address linked to your high school! You will use this username and email for the next four years (possibly longer if you attend graduate school), and if you lose access to your high school email address after graduation it is extremely difficulty to reset your password should you need to do so.
  4. Use the correct legal name and social security number. This one sounds easy, but it trips up more people than you might think. It is important that you report your legal name exactly as it appears on your social security card. This includes things like hyphenation. If you do not, it will cause a big problem. If your parent(s) do not have a social security number, use all zeroes or use their tax payer ID. Do not make up a number. If you make a typo on your social security number, you will not be able to correct this information. You will need to fill out an entirely new application.
  5. Have your tax returns ready. Ready to fill out the FAFSA and/or the CSS Profile? Having your tax return next to you while completing the forms is CRITICAL to success! On both forms, when you click in-field to type your answer, a helpful hint will appear on the side of your screen. This hint will tell you the exact line to reference on your tax return! Copy the numbers and you’re well on your way.
  6. Be consistent. Some of the questions on the CSS and FAFSA will ask for the same information. If you report conflicting information, there will be a delay in processing your financial aid application. Be sure that you use the same figure for your assets, particularly the figures for cash/savings and investments. Investments can be a pesky question for families when you are not sure what to include. Use those helpful hints on the application to get clarification.
    1. On the FAFSA, you do not report the value of retirement accounts such as a 401k, nor do you report the value of your primary residence.
    2. On the CSS Profile, home value and retirement account value will be asked in specific questions, it won’t be included in a large investment figure anywhere on the application.
  7. Use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. On the FAFSA, there is a handy tool called the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, or DRT. This tool will allow you to auto-populate your FAFSA right from the information reported on your tax forms from the IRS! Not only will this make filling out the application much easier for you, it also helps the financial aid office to guarantee the accuracy of your application. Another perk? One-third of FAFSAs are selected for a process called Federal Verification. This means the school must collect a little more information from your family to verify that every data field on your FAFSA is correct. By using the DRT, you are less likely to be randomly selected for this process!
  8. Don’t leave fields blank. Leaving fields blank may cause an error or a delay in processing your application. If there is no amount to report, add a zero to ensure clarity and accuracy.
  9. Do not use commas or decimal points. Round to the nearest whole number. If you try to use decimal points, both forms are going to add extra zeroes, significantly inflating your income and/or assets!
  10. Use 2017 income information. You read that correctly. Using 2017 income information allows families to complete the forms earlier and with finalized information, which gives institutions more time to get families accurate financial aid awards in the spring. If you feel 2017 is not an accurate reflection of your family’s financial situation (ex., someone lost a job in early 2018, or there was a one-time bonus or other income inflation in 2017), contact the Financial Aid Office. We will ask for documentation of the change along with your 2018 tax return and W2s when they are complete to see if we are able to make an adjustment.
  11. Who to list on the FAFSA/CSS Profile. Are your biological parents divorced, and you’re not sure who should be listed on the FAFSA or CSS Profile? There’s a great infographic provided online to help you figure out who you should include on the FAFSA. If you split time between two separate households, you will only include the parent and siblings who you live with most of the time. For the CSS Profile, you will include information for all parents and step-parents, regardless of who you live with the majority of the time. If you split time between two households, you will fill out the CSS Profile with each parent.

Above all — ask for help! If I have one tip, this is it! We are here to help you and your family and hope if you have questions you will send us an email at finaid@brynmawr.edu or give us a call at 610-526-5425. We are here to help answer your questions.

Freshman Year vs. Senior Year

From Celine Chen

 

Arriving at Bryn Mawr in August of 2015 as a freshman, I was bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and simultaneously terrified. This was such an exciting new chapter of my life that would allow me to grow so much as an individual, but I was also scared of the challenge it presented — transitioning from attending high school and living at home to being across the country living by myself. It’s definitely a process, but I’ve learned and grown so much over my past three years in college. I wanted to share some of the differences between freshman year me vs. senior year me.

Consortium

The Blue Bus transports students between Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges.

Freshman year
I was pretty nervous about the idea of taking a class at Haverford and Swarthmore when I was a freshman. I was just starting to figure out life as a college student, far away from home, at Bryn Mawr and trying to navigate another college seemed like too much. I did go to Haverford for a couple of events but every time I went I felt nervous and like I didn’t belong. So, my freshman year, I took only Bryn Mawr classes.

Senior year
As a senior, I don’t see much of a divide between the two colleges. I think part of it is attributed to the fact I’ve been here for so long that I feel really comfortable. I only started taking classes at Haverford my sophomore year. I took Chinese, which is actually a Bi-Co department so half of my classes were at Bryn Mawr and half were at Haverford. It was a nice introduction to what it was like taking a Haverford class because the class had a lot of Bryn Mawr support (I had 2 professors and one was BMC based while the other was HC). My junior year I took 2 classes at Haverford and it was no big deal: I would eat lunch in the dining hall between classes, go back for office hours or TA sessions, and it just became part of my routine.

Summary
I would say I’ve learned not to be intimidated by the fact that Bryn Mawr is one institution and Haverford is another. The colleges have their similarities and differences, but what’s important is making the most of your college career. Take classes that interest you and are helpful and take advantage of the variety of events that are held at either college!


Classes

Views from my Math 295 class (senior year).

Freshman year
I came into college thinking I was going to be a Biochemistry major, but over time my major interest has changed a few times. I remember logging onto Bryn Mawr’s course catalog and seeing so many classes that sounded incredibly interesting and thinking “wow I can’t wait to explore some of these different classes even though I’m a STEM major” (one of the beauties of a liberal arts curriculum). I had a fairly well-rounded freshman year first semester course load (I took Poverty, Affluence, and American Culture, Greek Sculpture, General Chemistry, and Calculus 2). I was a little intimidated by the idea of taking two lab courses at the same time which was why I chose to only take General Chemistry and not Chemistry and Intro to Biology. In retrospect I think this decision worked out well for me because I got to explore different academic disciplines at Bryn Mawr, and I also knocked a few General Education requirements out. That being said, I know a lot of people who took two courses with lab components at the same time and they lived to tell the tale.

Senior year
Now that I’m a senior, I’m taking more specialized classes for my major. However, I still have room in my schedule to complete my major and take one “fun” class outside of my major if I choose to. As a STEM major I like to break up my schedule a little bit with a non-STEM class to make things a little interesting. My “fun” class for this semester is an Anthropology class on agriculture and farming which has been pretty interesting so far!

Looking back at my freshman year, I think taking a variety of classes also helped me decide what I wanted to change my major to later on in my career. Since I had inadvertently taken courses that set me up for my current Math major, it seemed like a natural path to choose that was still in STEM but was about a subject matter that was more suited for me.

Summary
Feel free to explore all types of classes, especially during freshman year. I think taking a variety of courses your first year can help you really solidify on a major that you feel confident in when the time comes. Also take advantage of “shopping week” the first week of classes where you can check out as many classes as you’d like before finalizing your schedule.


Philly

Taking advantage of the Restaurant Week menu at Chez Ben in Philly.

Freshman Year
I think you can sense a pattern here, I was a bit of a scaredy cat my freshman year. There are certainly plenty of Mawrters who were more outgoing and adventurous as a freshman than I was. I went into Philly a handful of times my freshman year, but I wish I had gone more. I really enjoyed going to Campus Philly my first weekend (ever) of college to get a brief introduction to Philadelphia. I also went into Philly during Restaurant Week which happens two times a year in which select restaurants offer a fixed menu for discounted prices!

Senior Year
Since this is my last year in college, I really want to take advantage of the fact that Philly is such a big city and explore the culture and social scene there. My friends and I plan to do at least one fun thing off campus each weekend. Coming back from a semester abroad, I have a fresh perspective and new appreciation of Philadelphia. There’s so many places to eat, see, and visit! There are also a lot of resources (such as Visit Philly) to stay up to date on events going on in Center City.

Summary
Keep an eye out for interesting events in Center City. There’s a big chance you’ll be interested in a lot of events on campus but feel like you don’t have time to go to everything, which is okay. It’s all about striking the right balance between exploring Philly and managing your school work. But keep in mind that taking time to go out with friends or by yourself is an important form of self-care 🙂

Personal Growth

Freshman year vs. Senior year.

Freshman Year
I definitely came into college wanting to be open-minded to new experiences and possibilities. But, I think I was overwhelmed by the amount of decisions you make every day as a college student (should you just skip class and catch up on sleep? Should you go to that event today that might be useful for career development or finish up an assignment? Should you go out with friends or stay in and watch a movie?). The possibilities for talks, events, and things to do are endless and it was difficult for me to strike the right balance between self-care, social life, and career/academic life.

Senior Year
My semester abroad really changed my perspective of who I am as an individual and how I want to present myself and live my life (but more on that in another post). As a senior, I have become more reflective and, I think it took some time, but I am finally open to new experiences in a way that I was too cautious to truly be before. I have also taken on a few different leadership positions this year which has been a fun way to meet new people and see people outside of an academic setting. I’ve also learned that sometimes it’s okay to prioritize something that you want to do over school work, because otherwise you may end up burning yourself out early in the semester.

Summary
It’s okay to come into Bryn Mawr/college life nervous. It’s also okay to come in with a plan and have a sense for what you want to do and accomplish. I think my past three years have taught me to be really open to change. I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs throughout my college career, but I think those experiences have really shaped me into who I am today. I have also really appreciated how warm and welcoming the Bryn Mawr community is. If you’re willing to put yourself out there, there is always someone at Bryn Mawr who will support you.

On Homesickness

From Andrea Lirio

 

If I’m being honest, I haven’t been particularly homesick yet. While many of my peers are homesick – calling their parents and siblings daily and crying over missing home-cooked food – I have yet to feel that way. Personally, I feel prepared and excited. When my parents and siblings left me at Bryn Mawr on move-in day, I was beyond excited — I felt ready. I was thrilled to get to meet new people, explore campus, and learn about a new area. My mom and dad message me every day and call me – usually during the worst times of the day – to check in. Through September, I reassured my parents that I’d see them again during Fall Break in October.

Believe it or not, Fall Break is here. The semester is flying by faster than I thought it would. I feel like I’ve been on campus for years when in reality I’ve only been here for six weeks. It’s crazy! Building up to Fall Break, I realized it’d be weird not waking up in my dorm room, getting ready in our communal bathroom, doing my laundry every Friday, and getting meals in the dining halls with friends. While I’m not homesick in the sense that I feel like crying, I do admit that I’m excited to go back home and see what’s changed.

Things I’m excited for when I go home for Fall Break:

  • DRIVING. I knew I wouldn’t have a car on campus, but I never realized how much I’d miss driving. At Bryn Mawr, I tend to walk or take public transportation to wherever I need to go. It’s been a great experience learning how to use the trains and buses and learning different walking routes to the essentials: CVS, Starbucks, Wawa, Hope’s Cookies, etc. While walking is great exercise, I’m excited to go back home and drive around town again!
  • MY DOGS. I am so extremely excited to see my dogs again. My mom, dad, and siblings have been sending me pictures and videos throughout the last month and a half, but I’m excited to see them in person. If I ever saw a dog on campus or while on a walk with friends, I’d always ask the owner if I could pet them. I can’t wait to go back home to my two fuzzballs and cuddle up with them on the couch.
  • MY HOUSE. Our house is under renovation, and my parents send me photos of the progress every week. When I left, we didn’t have a kitchen at all and resorted to college-style living – a fridge and microwave. They told me that the kitchen would be complete once I get home for Fall Break so I’m very excited to see the final product and break it in! I also can’t wait to see the other new changes like the exterior and new furniture arriving! It’s so strange that it’ll all be different than when I left it when I come back home.
  • THE KITCHEN. I can’t wait to be able to use a fully equipped kitchen again regularly. While I love the food at the dining hall and the convenience – not having to prepare anything and always having a variety – I’m excited to be able to bake again. Friends at school have even asked me to come back with some baked goods so we’ll see what I can do!
  • MY TOWN & CITY. I’m also excited to see my town and the city of Boston again. While I’ve loved exploring Bryn Mawr, other suburbs similar to my town, and the city of Philadelphia, I can’t wait to see the people and places I grew up with and how they’ve changed or how I’ve changed.

Although I wouldn’t classify myself as homesick, I have to admit there are things I can’t wait to see when I get back home to Newton, MA.