Sweet Briar College is women’s college in transition. In 2015, the college announced it was closing its doors because of a lack of students and low “net tuition” numbers. Its alumni fought against the decision, filed lawsuits and contributed large amounts to the institution in an effort to save it.
Now, with a new president, Sweet Briar is hoping to make the necessary changes to make it a viable college for the long term.
The institution focuses on the education of women, with a strong curriculum that incorporated liberal arts with career preparation and life development. This unique style of education enables women to embrace their own skills and career paths to prepare them for the competitive work world. Sweet Briar College is known for empowering women both in the work world and in their personal lives. As such, this school offers a strong internal community that takes the learning experience far beyond the classroom walls. Sweet Briar encourages students to take their education into the outside community and world by offering various study abroad programs and learning experiences.
Sweet Briar College accepts both national and international female students in their programs. This school bases their education structure on offering women a wide variety of majors, including those most commonly considered to be geared towards men. This school has successfully incorporated liberal arts and applied sciences to educate students on the opportunities that the outside world can offer.
Sweet Briar College, once the estate of Indiana Fletcher Williams, was founded in 1901. In honor of her only daughter, the estate, which consisted of over 8,000 acres, the Sweet Briar Plantation and approximately a million dollars in assets was left with the intentions of building a school for women. The initial intention for Sweet Briar College, was to provide young woman with a solid education so that would be more advantageous to society.
Since its opening, Sweet Briar College has combined both old fashion and modern forms of education into one curriculum, enabling a well rounded educational experience for students. In 1906, Sweet Briar started its first official school year with a mere 51 students. Four years later, in 1910, Sweet Briar College issued the first AB degree, which was acknowledged by graduate programs from established, leading universities. Even then, Sweet Briar College had a high ratio of students pursing graduate studies as three out of the first five graduated from this class pursued their advanced degrees.
Since then, Sweet Briar College has become a member of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the American Association of Women and started its own chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, among others before 1950. In addition to these achievements, Sweet Briar College also established their international study program in the 1930’s. Since then, international study opportunities have been extended both France and Spain as well.
In addition to the educational achievements of Sweet Briar College, this school also has a rich history of architecture and culture. In 1995, there were 21 of the Sweet Briar College’s buildings that were named as a National Historic District by the Virginia Landmarks Register, as well as the National Register of Historic Places.
Life on campus at Sweet Briar is about liberation and diversity. The school engages and encourages students to be different, voice their opinions and defend their beliefs. Almost all on campus activities promote these aspects of life to build a strong foundation for the students. Most importantly, Sweet Briar instills a strong and effective engagement of respect among students, teaching them how to voice their differences and opinions while maintaining respect for the same. This Honor Code provides a Zero Tolerance for discrimination, hate, racism and bullying.
There are several on-campus residence halls at Sweet Briar that accommodate students with everything they need to be comfortable during the school year such as utilities, desks, beds and dressers. With designated dorms for both freshman and upperclassmen, the atmosphere allows students the opportunity to get to know each other and to help their fellow classmates adjust to campus life. For those students that would rather live in more apartment style residences, Green Village provides apartment housing that accommodates everything from appliances to flat screen televisions – providing the optimal essence of independent living.
Outside of the residence halls delivers plenty of activities and engagements to entertain and involve the students. Sweet Briar offers an interactive Involvement Calendar which showcases all events for each month from soccer games to meditation classes and countless other live performances and mixers for the students to attend.
Sweet Briar College historically offered a unique and individual based financial aid service to all students to ensure that no student or family is discouraged or distracted from their goals by the financial factors. This school provides individual attention and suggestions, ensuring that they walk their students (and their families) through every possible option available to their individual situation.
Although standard Grants, FAFSA and TAP Loans are accepted at Sweet Briar College, each year, the school also awards various scholarship programs as well. These programs are based on academic achievements and in some cases, athletic achievements as well. In addition, the school offers both an internal and federal work study program that allows young women to obtain jobs in their field to help them pay for schooling.
Sweet Briar’s more recent situation will no doubt add to the challenge of balancing the school’s financial needs with that of the students’ families.