The Seven Sisters colleges were established as prestigious educational institutions for women at a time when the Ivy League schools were exclusively for men. Today, there are five remaining women’s colleges in the Seven Sisters: Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, Smith, and Vassar. Wellesley College also used to be part of the group but became coeducational in 1969. Radcliffe College, the seventh sister, merged with Harvard in 1999.
All of the Seven Sisters colleges are highly selective private institutions located in the northeastern United States. They are renowned for their academic rigor and the success of their graduates. However, over the years, these colleges have acquired various stereotypes, some of which are accurate, some exaggerated, and others entirely unfounded. This guide aims to debunk the stereotypes associated with each of the remaining Seven Sisters colleges.
Table of Contents
- Seven Sisters Colleges Stereotypes
- Barnard College Stereotypes
- Bryn Mawr College Stereotypes
- Mount Holyoke College Stereotypes
- Smith College Stereotypes
- Vassar College Stereotypes
- Wellesley College Stereotypes
Stereotypes of the Seven Sisters Colleges
There are currently six remaining colleges in the Seven Sisters, with one having admitted both men and women for over 50 years, and the seventh having merged with Harvard more than two decades ago.
Like the Ivy League, the Seven Sisters colleges have not escaped stereotypes. This guide seeks to address the common stereotypes associated with each of these colleges, distinguishing between truth and falsehood.
Here are the most prevalent stereotypes of the Seven Sisters colleges.
Barnard College Stereotypes
- School location: New York, NY
- Enrollment: 3,043
- Acceptance rate: 11%
- U.S. News ranking: #18 in National Liberal Arts Colleges
If you were to ask a Barnard College student about the stereotypes associated with their college, they would likely mention words like “intelligent,” “academic,” and “ambitious.” With an acceptance rate of only 11% and incoming students boasting an average SAT score of 1,490 and an average ACT score of 33, it’s evident that getting into Barnard requires both brainpower and a strong work ethic.
That being said, Barnard’s location in New York City attracts students who seek a cosmopolitan lifestyle rather than the typical college experience focused on Greek parties and football games. This leads to another stereotype: Barnard students are seen as sophisticated city-dwellers.
However, like any other college, Barnard has a diverse student body. There are students who party hard and those who prioritize their studies. Some embrace the NYC nightlife, while others prefer the campus environment. Athletes, artists, and activists also contribute to the college’s vibrant community.
Bryn Mawr College Stereotypes
- School location: Bryn Mawr, PA
- Enrollment: 1,425
- Acceptance rate: 39%
- U.S. News ranking: #31 in National Liberal Arts Colleges
Bryn Mawr College students encounter numerous stereotypes. Some assume they are all wealthy, snobbish women solely interested in marriage and motherhood. Others believe that they are all either lesbians or bisexual. These generalizations, however, are far from accurate.
On the other hand, the notion that Bryn Mawr students are exceptionally intelligent with perfect SAT scores and high school valedictorians is somewhat closer to the truth. The college attracts academically accomplished students, with an average SAT score close to 1,400 and an average ACT score of 32. Nearly 70% of Barnard students rank in the top 10% of their high school class.
The truth is that Bryn Mawr College embraces diversity, welcoming students from various backgrounds. Some are heterosexual, some are queer, some come from wealthy families, and others from more modest means. Bryn Mawr’s location outside of Philadelphia and its consortium with other prestigious colleges in the area, including the University of Pennsylvania, Swarthmore College, and Haverford College, make it an attractive choice for many.
Politically, Bryn Mawr is considered a left-leaning institution, although there are conservative students who hold differing viewpoints. Regardless of their backgrounds, all Bryn Mawr women are strong, independent individuals who have worked hard to reach their current academic standing.
Mount Holyoke College Stereotypes
- School location: South Hadley, MA
- Enrollment: 2,220
- Acceptance rate: 52%
- U.S. News ranking: #36 in National Liberal Arts Colleges
Like all Seven Sisters colleges, Mount Holyoke enjoys a reputation for academic rigor. Its students are often perceived as highly intelligent and driven. Moreover, they are considered more mature than their peers at other colleges, with less inclination towards a carefree party culture.
However, it’s important to note that UMass Amherst, known for its vibrant party scene, is within close proximity, and Mount Holyoke students occasionally partake in those festivities. Additionally, while Mount Holyoke students are passionate about social issues and show strong support for causes like gender equality and environmentalism, not all share the same left-leaning views.
While the majority of Holyoke students identify as liberal Democrats, the campus is not ideologically uniform. Students pursue diverse interests, and their political beliefs reflect this. In summary, Mount Holyoke students are driven and passionate about academics and making positive contributions to society.
Smith College Stereotypes
- School location: Northampton, MA
- Enrollment: 2,566
- Acceptance rate: 30%
- U.S. News ranking: #13 in National Liberal Arts Colleges
Smith College is an elite academic institution, consistently ranking among the top 15 liberal arts colleges according to U.S. News. It attracts intelligent, ambitious students who prioritize their studies. Unfortunately, these students also face several stereotypes commonly associated with women’s colleges, such as the belief that they are all wealthy, spoiled girls who have never encountered hardship. Another stereotype suggests that most Smith students are lesbians.
While there are students from affluent backgrounds at Smith, there are also many who rely on scholarships and financial aid. Additionally, the LGBTQ community is well-represented, but the majority of students identify as heterosexual.
Vassar College Stereotypes
- School location: Poughkeepsie, NY
- Enrollment: 2,516
- Acceptance rate: 20%
- U.S. News ranking: #13 in National Liberal Arts Colleges
There are several stereotypes associated with Vassar College students. One depicts them as brilliant and talented individuals, while another characterizes the campus culture as one of the most left-wing in the country. While these stereotypes contain some truth, it is important not to generalize an entire student body since exceptions always exist. Students at Vassar come from diverse backgrounds and have different experiences and stories to share.
Some students come from privileged families, while others come from more modest backgrounds. While the majority identify as Democrats and support liberal causes, not all students hold the same political views. Additionally, while intelligence, talent, and academic achievement are prerequisites for admission to Vassar, students vary in their commitment to their coursework.
In conclusion, while certain archetypes exist at Vassar College, there is no single mold that all students fit into. Each individual is unique, with their own thoughts, feelings, and experiences.
Wellesley College Stereotypes
- School location: Wellesley, MA
- Enrollment: 2,461
- Acceptance rate: 16%
- U.S. News ranking: #5 in National Liberal Arts Colleges
Several stereotypes surround Wellesley College students. Some depict them as rich and spoiled, while others perceive them as highly intelligent and academic. Finally, some people view them as snooty and stuck-up. Among these stereotypes, only the second one holds true. Wellesley consistently ranks as the fifth-best liberal arts college in the country and admits only academically talented, hardworking students. The average incoming student achieves an SAT score of over 1,400 and an ACT score of 32. Additionally, the majority rank in the top 10 percent of their high school class.
However, the other two stereotypes mentioned above are overgeneralizations at best and unfair judgments at worst. While many Wellesley students come from affluent backgrounds, many also rely on scholarships, financial aid, and work-study to afford their education. While every college has entitled students, such individuals are not more prevalent at Wellesley than at any other institution.