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!

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.

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.

Getting the inside scoop

One of the best ways to connect with a college is through personal connections with staff, faculty, and especially students. This year, two students will be documenting their Bryn Mawr lives to share with you on this blog.

Andrea Lirio is a first-year student from Newton, Massachusetts. Follow along as she navigates her first year at Bryn Mawr.

Celine Chen is a senior from Portland, Oregon. Follow along as she reminisces the past 3 years and looks forward to life after Bryn Mawr.