From Celine CHen
How being open to different paths led me to Bryn Mawr.
My journey to Bryn Mawr was not at all what I expected. The truth is that Bryn Mawr was not my top choice when I was going through the college search process. When I was applying to college, I was set on staying close to home and going to school in sunny Southern California, yet, somehow, I ended up at Bryn Mawr College. So how did I end up here?
I applied to Bryn Mawr last minute, just thinking “why not?” Attending a women’s college had not been a top priority when I started this process, but I ended up applying to two. Once decisions were released, it turned out that most of my college plan didn’t exactly go to plan. From the offers I received, I considered the academic and social options available at each school, as well as the post-graduate opportunities they presented. In the end, I decided to come to Bryn Mawr because it was the best option for me to reach my academic and career goals.
Although my college process wasn’t perfect, I wanted to make a solid attempt at developing roots here. I certainly had an adjustment period my first semester at Bryn Mawr, which I think stems from not only some uncertainty about where I was going to college, but also from moving across the country and adjusting to being immersed in independence and free-decision making (typical college transition stuff).
It’s inevitable, regardless of where you go, that college will be an extremely transitional time in your life. You will get a taste of “adulting” — practicing taking care of yourself and becoming more proactive in the decisions you make and how they may affect your future socially, academically, and professionally. You may face rejection from your dream internship, or confusion about what to do post-college, but those challenges are part of what makes you grow as an individual throughout your four years.
Bryn Mawr offers a lot of formal and informal support to help you through academic, career, or social challenges. Your friends in college are so valuable because not only are they going through very similar experiences, but they also have life experiences that might be completely different from yours. I’ve gained perspective, a better understanding of myself, and learned even more about different people and cultures.
Bryn Mawr also has such a special and unique community, which took me well into my spring semester of my first-year year to discover. My WTF week experience as a first-year opened my eyes to the type of support the Bryn Mawr community has, especially in how much we value deep-rooted traditions. If you want to hear more about what WTF week is, and what I learned from it, click here. In career and professional development, BMC alums and graduates from other Seven Sister colleges are happy to support you after graduation (there are even Facebook groups called “Mawrtyrs at Work” and “Sisters Hiring (Seven) Sisters” that provide a professional support network).
One major highlight of college for me, personally, was studying abroad. If you want to read more about my experience, click here. I won’t go into it too much, but I’ll sum it up by saying that study abroad gave me a much-needed break from Bryn Mawr, time to be reflective, and return as a senior with a fresh new perspective. I also had so much personal growth and gained so much global context during my time abroad. I would say that, for me, study abroad was almost necessary in becoming who I am today.
All in all, going through this process led me to Bryn Mawr and shaped me into who I am today. It was those experiences that allowed me to study abroad in Stockholm, meet the close-knit group of friends I have now, and experience life as a young adult living on the east coast (an experience I might have never had, if I’d stayed close to home). After my first year, the latter was something that I really cherished about Bryn Mawr. I visited New York on my own for the first time while in college, and I feel so lucky to be in such close proximity to a variety of major cities. I’ve also gotten a taste of the indescribable subtleties between life on the west coast compared to life on the east coast.
So, many great things came from my experience at Bryn Mawr. If I can give one piece of advice, I’d say that it’s important to recognize the options you have and how to make the best of them to get where you want. It’s extremely rare for one person to be the perfect fit for every college and most students probably won’t get into every college to which they apply. It took me time and experience to realize how much can be gained when you are open to the college journey. Even if you are not where you thought you would be, that does not say anything about you or your worth. Be open to the options you have and take advantage of everything this experience has to offer.