The Women’s College Advantage

When we say ‘advantage,’ we don’t mean just one thing. There is a whole list of advantages when it comes to women’s colleges. All of them together make a pretty good case for why an all-women's education may be the perfect fit for you.
A recent study found that women’s colleges and universities are better than coed schools at ...

Creating Leaders, Communicators and Persuaders
Speaking out and speaking up are capacities actively developed at women’s colleges, and they’re often easier to master when you’re among other women. Women’s college alumnae report more in-class experience with giving presentations than their peers at other institutions and are more likely to gain leadership experience in student government and other campus organizations.

Helping Students Develop Critical Skills for Life and Career
Women’s colleges surpass all public and private colleges in helping students learn to think analytically, consider different social and historical perspectives, work as part of a team, write and speak effectively, make sound decisions, gain entry to a career, prepare for career change or advancement, and be politically and socially aware.

Enabling Students to Engage with Faculty
Women’s college graduates attribute their success to interaction with “a high quality teaching-oriented faculty.” They report strong benefits from mentoring, small classes and personal interaction with professors.

Proving Their Value Over a Lifetime
Graduating from a women’s college significantly increases your chances of earning a graduate degree. Women’s college graduates succeed in entering a range of career fields and graduate programs, regardless of their undergraduate major. More than 95 percent of women’s college alumnae believe the financial investment in their education was worthwhile and that the intellectual and personal capacities they gained are still extremely important to them.

The Sweet Briar Advantage

In 2009, Forbes named Sweet Briar among America’s top 10 women’s colleges. According to the National Survey of Student Engagement, Sweet Briar outperforms other colleges in its level of academic challenge, active and collaborative learning, student-faculty interaction, enriching educational experiences, and in providing a supportive campus environment.

Think About It:

At Sweet Briar, women get all the attention. Everything on campus — from classes to career services, from athletics to co-curricular events — is shaped by the interests and needs of women.

At Sweet Briar, women hold all of the student leadership positions. Our small size gives you plenty of opportunities to step up and make yourself heard.

At Sweet Briar, you’ll find a place to express yourself, to discover what your interests and passions are, and to build on the confidence you've gained in high school. It’s often easier to be yourself and step out of your comfort zone when you’re not worried about what guys think of you.

At Sweet Briar, engineering isn’t a “guy thing.” One of only two accredited engineering degrees at women’s colleges in the U.S., our challenging curriculum includes plenty of hands-on experience in a collaborative environment to give you that extra edge when you’re applying for grad school or your first job.

At Sweet Briar, you become part of a network of strong women that will endure a lifetime. Our small size and supportive single-sex environment allow you to form bonds that will stay with you through college and beyond. As a student and graduate, you’ll be able to connect with a diverse network of successful Sweet Briar alumnae who are eager to help you find your niche and follow your dreams.

At Sweet Briar, opportunities abound both on campus and off. We know your social life is part of your college experience, too, and maybe you’ve never been in an all-women’s environment before. Don’t worry. Sweet Briar is within an hour's drive of at least 10 major colleges and universities, including Hampden-Sydney and Virginia Military Institute, so there’s plenty of opportunity to meet people outside of Sweet Briar.

You’ll be able to take classes at Randolph and Lynchburg College, and James Madison, UVa and Virginia Commonwealth University offer an eclectic mix of extra-curricular activities. Charlottesville’s vibrant music scene is just a short trip away, and Lynchburg has plenty of restaurants, shopping and outdoor activities to balance your academic endeavors. Best of all, Sweet Briar’s visitation policy allows you to have off-campus guests on the weekends and, in many cases, during the week.


Firsts Matter

Here is a list of firsts for women, and we think it's remarkable that all of them hail from women's colleges.

  • FIRST woman to be named Secretary of State in the U.S: MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, Wellesley College
  • FIRST woman editor, The New York Post: JANE AMSTERDAM, Cedar Crest College
  • FIRST woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize: EMILY GREEN BALCH, Bryn Mawr College
  • FIRST woman to receive a college bachelor's degree: CATHERINE BREWER BENSON, Wesleyan College
  • FIRST scientist to identify the Hong Kong flu virus: EARLA BIEKERT, Wesleyan College
  • FIRST woman to earn a doctorate in chorale conducting from Yale University: MARIAN DOLAN, Sweet Briar College
  • FIRST woman leader of the American Newspaper Publisher Association: CATHLEEN BLACK, Trinity Washington University
  • FIRST African-American woman judge in the U.S.: JANE MATILDA BOLIN, Wellesley College
  • FIRST African-American woman surgeon in the South: DOROTHY L. BROWN, Bennett College for Women
  • FIRST to win Nobel Prize in Literature: PEARL S. BUCK, Randolph-Macon Woman's College
  • FIRST female Rhodes Scholar, Georgia: ILA BURDETT, Agnes Scott College
  • FIRST woman secretary of the Democratic National Party: DOROTHY VREDENBURGH BUSH, Mississippi University for Women
  • FIRST woman to be Executive Vice President of the American Stock Exchange: SARAH PORTER BOEHMLER, Sweet Briar College
  • FIRST woman founder of a PBS station: ELIZABETH PFOHL CAMPBELL, Salem College
  • FIRST Hispanic woman judge Circuit Court for Baltimore City: HON. AUDREY J.S. CARRION, College of Notre Dame of Maryland
  • FIRST environmentalist who awakened public consciousness through her book, Silent Spring: RACHEL CARSON, Chatham University
  • FIRST female CEO of a commercial airline: BARBARA CASSANI, Mount Holyoke College
  • FIRST Asian-American woman appointed to a president's cabinet in U.S. history, Secretary of Labor: ELAINE L. CHAO, Mount Holyoke College
  • FIRST woman president of Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, racehorse breeder and owner of Secretariat: PENNY CHENERY, Smith College
  • FIRST woman manager in nuclear engineering, Philadelphia Electric Company: MARTHA CHRISTINZIANO, Georgian Court University
  • FIRST First Lady to be elected to the Senate or Congress: HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, Wellesley College
  • FIRST woman to serve in a leadership role in the North Carolina legislature; two terms as house minority leader, one term as senate majority leader, one term as senate minority whip: BETSY LANE COCHRANE, Meredith College
  • FIRST woman president, Academy of Television Arts & Sciences: DIANA MULDAUR DOZIER, Sweet Briar College
  • FIRST woman to become a tenured full professor of neurosurgery in the U.S: FRANCES K. CONLEY, Bryn Mawr College
  • FIRST Republican woman to serve as Majority Whip in the Florida House of Representatives: FAYE BERRY CULP, Mississippi University for Women
  • FIRST woman to be ordained in a Southern Baptist Church: ADDIE E. DAVIS, Meredith College
  • FIRST woman announcer for a major league baseball team: SHERRY DAVIS, College of Notre Dame of Maryland
  • FIRST woman mayor of Alexandria, Va.: PATRICIA SMITH TICER, Sweet Briar College
  • FIRST female commanding officer of New York Port Authority Police Department: LT. SUSAN DURETT, Georgian Court University
  • FIRST African-American woman to pass the bar in the state of Mississippi: MARIAN WRIGHT EDELMAN, Spelman College
  • FIRST woman to manage a presidential campaign: SUSAN ESTRICH, Wellesley College
  • FIRST woman anchor of a daily news program: LEE CULLUM, Sweet Briar College
  • FIRST woman editor of the Christian Science Monitor: KATHARINE FANNING, Smith College
  • FIRST woman vice-presidential candidate: GERALDINE FERRARO, Marymount Manhattan College Georgia's
  • FIRST and only Miss America: NEVA LANGLEY FICKLING, Wesleyan College
  • FIRST African-American woman District Attorney in North Carolina: BELINDA FOSTER, Bennett College for Women
  • FIRST American woman to climb three of the world's tallest peaks: CHARLOTTE FOX, Hollins University
  • FIRST woman elected to the Tennessee legislature: SARA RUTH FRASIER, Wesleyan College
  • FIRST woman and only the third person to complete a 2,700 mile run around Australia: SARAH FULCHER, Salem College
  • FIRST civilian woman scientist on a space shuttle mission (Space Lab Sciences I): DR. MILLIE HUGHES-FULFORD, Texas Woman's University
  • FIRST woman manager of a major metropolitan radio station: SUSAN BREAKEFIELD FULTON, Wilson College
  • FIRST woman elected president of physicians at the Mayo Clinic and of the Minnesota Medical Society: GAIL GAMBLE, Hood College
  • FIRST woman sportswriter in the Atlantic Coast Conference: MARY GARBER, Hollins University
  • One of the FIRST woman lawyers to argue a case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court: SUSAN BRANDEIS GILBERT, Bryn Mawr College
  • FIRST woman to hold a key diplomatic reporting post with the U.S. Foreign Service in the Middle East: APRIL GLASPIE, Mills College
  • FIRST woman mayor of Columbus, Ga. (the third largest city in the state): TERESA PIKE TOMLINSON, Sweet Briar College
  • FIRST Hispanic woman named president of a comprehensive state college: ELSA GOMEZ, College of Saint Elizabeth
  • FIRST woman and first African-American to be named director of the U.S. Bureau of Mines: RHEA GRAHAM, Bryn Mawr College
  • FIRST woman to be elected governor of a state (Connecticut) in her own right: ELLA GRASSO, Mount Holyoke College
  • FIRST woman president of a major university (University of Chicago): HANNA HOLBORN GRAY, Bryn Mawr College
  • FIRST woman awarded the American Geological Institute's Ian Campbell Medal; FIRST woman to teach science at Boston College; FIRST to head the California Department of Conservation; FIRST woman on the California Mining and Geology Board; FIRST woman named state geologist in Minnesota: PRISCILLA PERKINS GREW, Bryn Mawr College
  • FIRST woman and African-American and youngest person nominated as associate minister general in the Disciples of Christ Church: CYNTHIA HALE, Hollins University
  • FIRST female judge in the South: MARY KERR MOREHEAD HARRIS, Peace College
  • FIRST woman to become Director of the National Institute of Health: BERNADINE HEALY, Vassar College
  • FIRST woman ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church USA: RACHELLE HENDERLITE, Agnes Scott College
  • FIRST and only person to have won four Academy Awards for acting. The American Film Institute voted her the nation's leading screen legend of the 20th century: KATHARINE HEPBURN, Bryn Mawr College
  • FIRST woman general of the U.S. Army: BRIGADIER GENERAL ELIZABETH P. HOISINGTON, USA retired, College of Notre Dame of Maryland
  • FIRST African-American woman to serve as moderator and managing editor of PBS's Washington Week in Review: GWEN IFILL, Simmons College
  • FIRST woman president of the Florida senate: ANTOINETTE JENNINGS, Wesleyan College
  • FIRST woman judge, U.S. Fourth Circuit: KAREN JOHNSON WILLIAMS, Columbia College
  • FIRST woman to be appointed as the state's chief judge
  • FIRST woman to serve on the state's highest court, the Court of Appeals: JUDITH S. KAYE, Barnard College
  • FIRST woman to be ordained Bishop of the Southeastern Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Conference: CHARLENE PAYNE KAMMERER, Wesleyan College
  • FIRST woman to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations: JEANE KIRKPATRICK, Barnard College
  • FIRST woman neurosurgeon in the U.S.: DOROTHY KLENKE, Bryn Mawr College
  • FIRST woman president of the State Bar of California: MARGARET MORROW, Bryn Mawr College
  • FIRST woman to be elected to the U.S. Congress from S.C.: ELIZABETH J. PATTERSON, Columbia College
  • FIRST woman elected as Speaker of the House of Representatives — member of the 110th Congress for the state of California: NANCY PELOSI, Trinity Washington University
  • FIRST woman appointed to a Presidential Cabinet post: FRANCES PERKINS, Mount Holyoke College
  • FIRST African-American woman appointed Commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission: AULANA PHARIS PETERS, The College of New Rochelle
  • FIRST woman commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service: SHIRLEY DANIEL PETERSON, Bryn Mawr College
  • FIRST woman to chair a Financial Regulatory Agency: SUSAN PHILLIPS, Agnes Scott College
  • FIRST woman Chancellor in the State of Mississippi: LENORE LOVING PRATHER, Mississippi University for Women
  • FIRST woman elected president of an NAACP chapter: GLENDA COPES REED, Smith College
  • FIRST director of the the Congressional Budget Office; recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "genius grant"; served as vice chair of the Federal Reserve System's Board of Governors and directed the White House Office of Management and Budget: ALICE MITCHELL RIVLIN, Bryn Mawr College
  • FIRST missionary order of Catholic women in the U.S., Maryknoll Sisters: SR. MARY JOSEPHINE ROGERS, Smith College
  • FIRST person to observe that the X and Y chromosomes determine sex: NETTIE STEPHENS, Bryn Mawr College
  • FIRST woman general manager for the Associated Press: KELLY SMITH TUNNEY, Cottey College
  • FIRST woman to head White House Council of Economic Advisors, appointed: LAURA D'ANDREA TYSON, Smith College
  • FIRST African-American woman graduate of Emory University Medical School: MARSHALYNN YEARGIN-ALLSOPP, Sweet Briar College
  • FIRST woman mayor of a capitol American city (Hartford): ANN UCCELLO, Saint Joseph College
  • FIRST woman publisher of TIME-LIFE: LISA VALK, Hollins University
  • FIRST woman to receive Scientific Achievement Award for cancer research: ROSLYN WALLACE, Brenau University
  • FIRST woman to command a naval base and highest ranking woman in the U.S. Navy: REAR ADMIRAL LOUISE WILMOT, College of Saint Elizabeth