Last Words from a Barnard Parent

To those of you whose daughters haven’t already made a decision, take some small comfort from the fact that the end is in sight. Your daughter WILL pick a college in the next several days.  Many factors come into play during this process – the extent of the financial aid package a school offers, the school’s location, whether the school’s environment seems right, the school’s academic standing.  If Barnard is still in the running, I hope you and your daughter will give it careful consideration as the deadline draws near.

The admissions office works very hard to identify students who would thrive at Barnard.  If your daughter chooses Barnard, she has what it takes to do well there.  It’s true, Barnard is a somewhat serious place, but serious in the sense that its students are passionate about learning.  Barnard women are by and large outgoing, fun, intellectually curious and energetic.  They come to the college to take advantage of Barnard’s, the University’s and New York City’s many, many opportunities – not to sit in a study carrel for four years.  In my opinion, there are no compromises involved in going to Barnard; your daughter can “have it all.”

Many of you are thinking ahead four years and wondering what life after Barnard will look like for your daughters.  First of all, Barnard graduates do very, very well and many alumnae are at the absolute pinnacles of their fields. Barnard does send its fair share of graduates immediately to law school and medical school, but it is not in any sense a “pre-professional” school.  The Nine Ways of Knowing curriculum is tremendously important in shaping a Barnard education.  It encourages students to explore areas they hadn’t thought about earlier, and, in many cases, introduces students to entirely new possibilities.   I urge parents to expect this, and to be open to it!

A first year may enter Barnard convinced that she wants to be pre-med, but discovers that her future lies in Economic research.  An English major may by chance take an internship in the fashion industry and decide to work in that field when she receives her degree. Also, as Barnard students prove every year, a Bachelor’s in Business Administration is NOT a prerequisite to getting a job offer from IBM, Google or any other large company that recruits undergraduates.  There are seniors in every major who are awarded fellowships, join Teach for America, or pursue other such prestigious programs both in the US and abroad upon graduation.

A liberal arts education prepares students for many eventualities and, to me, is more meaningful now than ever before.  At Barnard, your daughter will develop the essential strengths she will need to succeed in the very volatile world we live in:  wisdom, intellectual flexibility, excellent writing and communications skills, and – most significantly – great confidence in herself.