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Seven Sisters Colleges, Ranked

    If you’re considering applying to top-tier liberal arts colleges, chances are you’ve heard of the prestigious Seven Sisters colleges. But what exactly are these institutions, and what sets them apart?

    In this article, we’ll delve into the world of the Seven Sisters, shedding light on which colleges remain a part of this historic group and which continue to maintain their status as women’s colleges. I’ll also provide valuable insights into the advantages of pursuing admission to a Seven Sisters school and offer five practical tips to enhance your chances of acceptance.

    Seven Sisters Colleges
    Seven Sisters Colleges

    What Are the Seven Sisters Colleges?

    When folks mention the Seven Sisters colleges, they’re actually talking about a specific bunch of seven colleges in the Northeastern United States, all of which used to be exclusively for women historically.

    The Seven Sisters colleges were formed during a time when Ivy League schools only admitted men. They aimed to provide women with an equally rigorous and prestigious education.

    Out of the original Seven Sisters, five continue as women’s colleges today: Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, Smith, and Vassar. Wellesley College, the sixth, became coed in 1969. Radcliffe College, the seventh, merged with Harvard in 1999.

    All these Seven Sisters colleges are private, highly selective institutions located in the northeastern United States. They are renowned for their challenging academics and for producing successful graduates.

    Over the years, they have acquired various stereotypes, some based on truth, some exaggerated, and others entirely untrue. This guide will debunk common stereotypes associated with the remaining Seven Sisters colleges.

    1. Barnard College

    If you ask a Barnard College student about stereotypes, they might mention words like “smart,” “academic,” and “ambitious.” With an 11% acceptance rate and high test scores, brains and hard work are prerequisites for admission.

    But Barnard’s NYC location attracts more than just serious scholars. Its Upper West Side campus appeals to cosmopolitan students seeking a city lifestyle over traditional college activities.

    Another stereotype is that Barnard students are sophisticated city-dwellers, but in reality, the campus boasts a diverse mix of students. Some party hard, others study diligently, and there’s a variety of interests, from athletes to artists to activists. In short, Barnard students are as diverse as any college crowd.

    2. Bryn Mawr College

    Bryn Mawr College students face a variety of stereotypes. Some believe they are all wealthy, snobby, marriage-focused individuals, while others stereotype them as exclusively lesbian or bisexual.

    However, these generalizations are far from accurate. While some students may indeed be high-achievers, not everyone at Bryn Mawr has perfect SAT scores or was their high school’s valedictorian. The recent incoming class had impressive scores, with an average SAT of nearly 1,400 and an average ACT of 32.

    In reality, Bryn Mawr boasts a diverse student body, with individuals from various backgrounds, orientations, and economic statuses. Students come from different racial and ethnic backgrounds and have a wide range of experiences.

    Many choose Bryn Mawr for its location near Philadelphia and its consortium with other prestigious colleges like the University of Pennsylvania, Swarthmore College, and Haverford College.

    In terms of political leanings, Bryn Mawr is known for its left-leaning stance, with most students identifying as liberal Democrats. However, there is a small but vocal conservative presence on campus, although it doesn’t align with the MAGA ideology.

    One undeniable truth about all Bryn Mawr students is their strength and independence. They’ve worked hard to reach their current academic pursuits.

    3. Mount Holyoke College

    Mount Holyoke College, like other Seven Sisters colleges, is renowned for its academic rigor. Its students are often perceived as intelligent and driven, less inclined towards the party scene prevalent on other campuses.

    Though UMass Amherst’s vibrant party culture is nearby, some Mount Holyoke students do partake in these festivities.

    In addition to their academic prowess, Mount Holyoke students are passionate about social issues, particularly gender equality and environmentalism. The campus leans left politically, with most students identifying as liberals and supporting the Democratic Party. However, there’s a diversity of viewpoints among the student body.

    Overall, Mount Holyoke students are high-achieving, dedicated to their studies, and deeply committed to making a positive impact on the world.

    4. Radcliffe College

    Radcliffe College was a women’s liberal arts college in Cambridge, Massachusetts, founded in 1879 as the “Harvard Annex.” It later became known as Radcliffe College after a merger with Harvard University in 1894. Radcliffe operated as a coordinate institution to Harvard, meaning it had its own faculty, administration, and admissions process but shared many resources and classes with Harvard.

    Over time, Radcliffe expanded its academic programs and became increasingly integrated with Harvard. In 1999, Radcliffe College officially merged with Harvard University, and Radcliffe ceased to exist as a separate entity. Harvard became fully coeducational, admitting women and men on an equal basis.

    Today, the legacy of Radcliffe College lives on through the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, which supports interdisciplinary scholarship and research.

    5. Smith College

    Smith College stands as an elite academic institution, ranking among the top 15 liberal arts colleges according to U.S. News. Like its Seven Sisters counterparts, Smith is renowned for attracting intelligent, ambitious, and academically driven students, and this stereotype is well-founded.

    However, Smith students also face a few stereotypes that are often associated with women’s colleges in general. Some assume that all Smithies are wealthy, privileged individuals who’ve never had to work, and that most of them identify as lesbians.

    In reality, Smith boasts a diverse student body. While some students come from affluent backgrounds, many rely on financial aid and come from more modest means. Likewise, like the broader population, the majority of Smith students identify as heterosexual.

    6. Vassar College

    Vassar College students face various stereotypes. Some view them as exceptionally brilliant and left-leaning, which holds some truth but doesn’t define everyone. Vassar boasts a diverse student body with varying backgrounds and experiences.

    Students come from both affluent and modest backgrounds, and while most identify as Democrats supporting liberal causes, there’s diversity in political views. While academic excellence is essential for admission, commitment to coursework varies.

    In essence, while there’s a Vassar archetype, every Vassar student is a unique individual with distinct thoughts, feelings, and experiences.

    7. Wellesley College

    Several stereotypes circulate about Wellesley College students, but only one holds true. Wellesley is indeed ranked as the fifth-best liberal arts college in the U.S., boasting a 16 percent acceptance rate, high SAT and ACT scores, and a majority of students ranking in the top 10 percent of their high school class. So, the stereotype that Wellesley students are smart and academic is accurate.

    However, the other two stereotypes—that all Wellesley students are rich and spoiled or snooty and stuck-up—are overgeneralizations. Many students come from diverse financial backgrounds, with scholarships, financial aid, and work-study helping make their education affordable. Entitled and unappreciative students exist on every campus, and Wellesley is no exception, but they don’t define the majority of the student body.


    Detail of the Seven Sisters Colleges In Table

    We’ve prepared a table for you to easily compare the names, locations, admission rates, sizes, and co-ed policies of the original Seven Sisters colleges.

    Why Apply to a Seven Sisters College?

    I applied to and had to choose between Vassar and Wellesley for college, so I’ve thought a lot about this. There are five main reasons to consider applying to and attending a Seven Sisters college:

    1. Excellent Liberal Arts Education: These colleges offer the benefits of a small liberal arts school, such as small classes, good student-faculty ratios, and a strong academic focus. You’ll also have the opportunity to take classes at nearby schools, broadening your academic experience.
    2. Historical Prestige: The Seven Sisters colleges have a rich history and tradition of providing high-quality education to women. This legacy continues to enhance their reputation.
    3. Empowerment and Support: These schools are committed to empowering women academically and personally. They provide a supportive environment for women to excel and develop leadership skills.
    4. Strong Alumni Networks: The Seven Sisters colleges boast influential alumnae networks, which can open doors to various career opportunities and connections.
    5. Diverse Learning Experiences: Partnerships with nearby institutions allow you to explore co-ed classes and different learning environments, enriching your educational journey.

    Consider these factors when making your decision.

    5 Tips to Get Into the Seven Sisters Colleges

    Certainly, here are five tips to help you increase your chances of getting into the Seven Sisters colleges:

    1. Outstanding Academics: Focus on achieving excellent grades throughout high school. These colleges have high academic standards, so maintaining a strong GPA is essential. Additionally, excel in standardized tests like the SAT or ACT, as they play a significant role in the admissions process.
    2. Diverse Extracurricular Activities: Participate in a variety of extracurricular activities that demonstrate your interests, passions, and leadership skills. Show dedication and commitment to a few activities rather than spreading yourself too thin.
    3. Compelling Essays: Write compelling and authentic personal essays that reflect your unique qualities, experiences, and aspirations. Use this opportunity to convey your personality and why you’re a good fit for the college.
    4. Strong Letters of Recommendation: Request letters of recommendation from teachers or mentors who know you well and can speak to your abilities and character. Ensure they can provide specific examples of your accomplishments and potential.
    5. Demonstrate Genuine Interest: Research each college thoroughly and demonstrate your genuine interest in their programs, values, and campus culture. Attend information sessions, visit if possible, and engage with current students or alumni to learn more.

    Remember that the admissions process is highly competitive, so presenting a well-rounded application that showcases your academic prowess, leadership, and fit with the college’s mission is crucial. Good luck with your applications!