Admissions Blog: If you want to be a leader, try a women’s college

Posted on March 15, 2019 by Madison Harpham ’21

graduation bell tower Caniquia Eubanks graduated from Sweet Briar College in 2018 with a degree in psychology.

Back in high school, I was very timid — even during simple tasks, such as class projects, presentations and after-school clubs and sports. I lacked confidence in myself and in my ability to take charge. I was intimidated by others and worried what they would think of me. But that all changed when I began attending a women’s college.

Most women’s colleges are private, leading to smaller and more personalized class sizes. This allows for more of a discussion-based class, enabling students to share their opinions in a supportive environment that promotes women’s empowerment. These classes are taught by professors who want to see us succeed, and with a wide variety of majors, we learn how to compete in male-dominated fields.

Not only will you learn assertiveness in the classroom, but women’s colleges have multiple clubs and organizations, and of course they’re all led by women. (Talk about great role models!) At Sweet Briar, the Student Government Association, GLOW (Gay, Lesbian or Whoever), the Black Student Alliance and many more allow you to run for an officer position. In addition, there are multiple varsity and club sports you can join. This will enhance your leadership skills! Likewise, everyone in these organizations wants to see you succeed.

CORE 130 library Madison Harpham (right) takes a stand during her CORE 130 — Women and Gender in the World class in the library.

Many people challenge us with the question, “Will you be unprepared for taking on leadership roles in the coed world?” My answer: Absolutely not! We host events with coed schools frequently, from community service events to job fairs or even just a mixer. Many women’s colleges are located next to coed schools, so there is plenty of interaction. We’re used to testing our leadership skills in a coed environment, and we don’t feel intimidated — because at Sweet Briar, every student leadership position is held by a woman. Learning in a single-sex environment in no way, shape or form has stopped us from being the bright and bold young women our colleges have taught us to become!

I’m confident that attending a women’s college will make me more prepared for the opportunities that lie ahead. This is only my second year here at Sweet Briar College, and I have already noticed a big change in myself. I speak out and stand up for what I believe in. I am empowered and encouraged by the students and faculty surrounding me. I am constantly being pushed out of my comfort zone, which allows me to embrace new opportunities. I am absolutely grateful I chose a women’s college because it has shaped me into the fierce leader I never thought I would become.

Ready to lead? Learn more about Sweet Briar academics, including our innovative leadership core curriculum.

Find out how you can make an impact at Sweet Briar College — and beyond. Visit

Madison Harpham
Madison Harpham ’21 is a creative writing major from Amherst, Va. A student admissions ambassador and member of the varsity cross-country and lacrosse teams, Madison also sits on the Student-athlete Advisory Council and sings with the Sweet Tones.