Sweet Briar College, located in Sweet Briar, VA, is a private, 4-year women’s college (the graduate program is coed). Founded in 1901 as the Sweet Briar Institute, the campus is just 12 miles north of Lynchburg, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The expansive 3,250-acre campus features Georgian Revival architecture by Ralph Adams Cram, who also designed Princeton and West Point. Twenty-one buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places. The picturesque campus also includes a 130-acre riding center and 18 miles of trails, as well as two lakes and several nature sanctuaries. Among the notable women who have graduated from Sweet Briar College are TaskRabbit founder Leah Busque and NPR newscaster Ann Taylor.
Sweet Briar College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges and offers bachelor’s degrees in more than 25 areas of study, as well as a Master of Arts in Teaching. It is one of only two women’s colleges in the country to offer an ABET-accredited engineering degree. Beginning in fall 2018, general education requirements will be replaced by a core curriculum focused on women’s leadership in the 21st century. A new academic calendar begins and ends with intensive 3-week sessions designed to increase experiential learning. Study-abroad opportunities include JYF in Paris, Sweet Briar’s longstanding junior-year program at Paris universities. About 40% of students study abroad, while 80% participate in internships — thanks to an active alumnae network and career services, as well as close proximity to Washington, D.C.
Per its mission statement, “Sweet Briar College prepares women (and at the graduate level, men as well) to be productive, responsible members of a world community. It focuses on personal and professional achievement through a customized educational program that combines the liberal arts, preparation for careers, and individual development. The faculty and staff guide students to become active learners, to reason clearly, to speak and write persuasively, and to lead with integrity. They do so by creating an educational environment that is both intense and supportive and where learning occurs in many different venues, including the classroom, the community, and the world.”
There are about 300 undergraduate students enrolled at Sweet Briar College, nearly all of whom live on campus among the 8 residence halls and Green Village (suites). The college sponsors over 20 clubs and student organizations, and 80% of students take on a leadership role during their time there. For the varsity athlete, the pink-and-green Vixens field teams in seven sports and participate in NCAA Division III competition. The college’s nationally renowned riding program offers opportunities to compete individually or as part of its NCEA, IHSA or ODAC teams. Hiking, skiing and other outdoor adventures await just a short drive off campus. College traditions go back to Sweet Briar’s earliest days and include the annual Founders’ Day, when students, faculty and staff visit Monument Hill and the grave of the founders’ daughter, Daisy Williams, as well as Lantern Bearing, when underclasswomen and seniors bond in a final farewell ceremony just before graduation. Sweet Briar is a close-knit community that forges lifelong connections among students, alumnae, faculty and staff.