Even as a young child, I loved science and knew I wanted to pursue a job in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). As I got older and started looking at careers in science more seriously, it was hard to find people who looked like me in STEM industries. So, I wanted to find a college that encouraged women to integrate into these jobs and break barriers in STEM. I needed a place where my passion could grow among other women in STEM, and I could find the tools to make myself a leader in my field. I found that place at Meredith College, in part because it is a women’s college.
Students at women’s colleges are surrounded by other women who share their interests and passions. I’ve found that an all female student body emanates a sense of belonging and provides an encouraging support system of women who value each other. College can be a busy and stressful time, so having close connections with other women really can help make school work and student life easier.
As a Meredith student in STEM, I have women in all of my classes who love science as I do. They’ve helped make me a stronger student by engaging with me in class discussions and helping me understand course material when I’ve felt overwhelmed. This strong support helps to give students the courage to ask tough questions, debate opinions, and share ideas.
This support system is also useful when it comes to clubs and organizations on campus. While many colleges offer clubs and organizations, I feel that students at women’s colleges are more likely to join these clubs or apply for leadership positions because of the encouragement that they receive from current female leaders. Some of the clubs that I joined were suggested to me by friends who understood my passions. For example, I joined the Meredith chapter of Circle K International and served as their vice president of service after a friend recommended the organization to me. She was involved with Circle K because of their focus on community service, and she knew that I also value service.
Many companies value community service and look for your involvement when you apply for positions within their company. Professional and graduate programs also look for community service opportunities on your application. Peers also made networking for events easier for me once I became an organization leader. The helpfulness that can be felt among peer groups of women makes branching out into new groups seem less intimidating.
Another important part of college is experiential learning, such as studying abroad, holding internships, or doing undergraduate research. Many of these opportunities are identified through building relationships with faculty or by networking with alumnae. Women’s colleges are often small colleges, which can be a huge advantage for students who want to experience a variety of opportunities. Smaller class sizes give students more chances to build personal relationships with their professors and participate in extracurricular projects with them.
During my time at Meredith, I studied abroad in Costa Rica, completed more than two years of undergraduate research, and landed an internship as a science-focused student writer with Meredith’s marketing department. These experiences have made me more confident and comfortable in mentoring underclass women who have aspirations like mine, as well as given me close relationships with several professors.
Being in an environment where women feel valued, empowered, and equally-ranked is important for women in any setting, but especially in one as critical as college.
I came to a women’s college in search of growth, and I became a more prepared, confident, and competitive version of myself. If you are a woman looking for a college that will challenge you while surrounding you with other women who will help you grow and support your passions in STEM, I encourage you to explore women’s colleges. I did, and now I’m ready to move forward as a leader in my next stage of life.