Why did you decide do go to college? Was it difficult financially or socially (did people look down on women going to college?) What did you want to get out of it?
- There was never any question in my family that I would go to college. It was expected. I originally went to college to become an architect. I began at Rutgers University in their 5 year Architecture program, but during my freshman year, my younger brother, who had struggled in school, was diagnosed with dyslexia, which was a new field and new diagnosis at the time. I became very interested in the field and felt that I should change my major to Educational Psychology so that I could help children like my brother. My parents enrolled him in a special school for 5th grade and the tuition for him was going to be more than it cost for me to go to an out-of-state university, so I decided to return to Virginia, and Mary Washington, to pursue my new goals.
- I had a very serious boyfriend for my last two years of high school and all the way through Mary Washington, who was really pushing to get married mid-way through college, but I knew my own goals required a college degree, and I knew my parents’ expectations, and also knew myself well enough to know that I might not finish my degree if I were married, so I did not allow myself to be in that situation. Financially, I was blessed in that my parents were able to pay most of my college expenses. I worked several jobs at the college during the summers, and during the school year, to earn my spending money and I took advantage of VA State loans for those who were going into the education field, but the basic tuition, room and board were paid by my parents.
What kind of career options were available for someone who wennt to college vs. someone who did not.
- Originally, I wanted to go into architecture, which definitely required college and graduate degrees. When I switched goals, it still needed college and graduate education. I never really thought about any career that did not include a college degree.
What was the classroom like? Was the mood serious? What was the teaching style(was it mostly lectures, group work, or something else?)
- Absolutely, the mood was serious. Some of my classmates were at college to get that “Mrs.” Degree, but a good many of us had real career goals and were there to get the education. I was focused on betting my undergrad degree so that I could continue with graduate school. Most of my classmates worked hard and met the requirements to get good grades. We had many lecture classes, but we also had collaborative learning and lots of research and writing of papers. College was not watered down in my era. We worked hard and earned our degrees.
Do you have any memories of the classroom experience or of college here in general that you would like to share? Stories would be great!
- I worked at the college counseling center for Dr. Kelly and at the Admission Office for Mr. Houston. I loved giving tours of the college for the Admission Office and working as an assistant for Mr. Houston. As a psychology major, I loved working for Dr. Kelly and learning from her.
- One of my favorite stories involves a Professor of Psychology, who shall remain nameless. My family lived in Fredericksburg so, even though I lived on campus during the school year, I was close by when school was out, and I worked at the college all summer. This particular professor was running an experiment that was funded by a grant, and involved running rats through a particular series of activities at a specified time each day. The timing of this experiment conflicted with the time of graduation, so he asked me, as a psych major and a local, to train to run the experiment for him during the graduation ceremony. I was happy to do it (an earn a few extra bucks), so I went to train with him on the Saturday afternoon before graduation. The room that the college had given him in which to do his experiment was on the top of George Washington Hall. It was a little square room out in the middle of the flat roof. Had I been a little more “street smart”, I would have questioned going into a such an isolated space alone with an older male, but I was naive, and never considered that he may have plans other than teaching me how to run the experiment. We got into the room, which was lined with shelves with boxes of stored files, etc. and his experiment set up in the middle of the room. He locked the door after we entered, which I found strange, but I did not protest, and he began to show me the process, and then all of a sudden, he was all hands, groping, grabbing, completely not what I was expecting. I managed to fend him off and somehow, I managed to summon the courage to stand up to him (he was one of my professors!) and tell him to back off. He regained his composure, and so did I, and we continued the training session.
- My revenge came on Graduation Day. I was in the little room atop GW, and was running the experiment, when suddenly, the entire room began to vibrate violently, and the noise was deafening. It turned out that the four speakers, through which “Pomp and Circumstance” was being played for the graduation procession, were located on the four corners of this room. It was like being on the inside of a drum! I was totally confused about whether I should continue to run the experiment according to the strict time parameters of the experiment, but under adverse conditions, or should I cease the experiment, thereby completely negating the whole project. I decided that I should continue with the experiment, while noting the change in conditions. I tried running the rats, but they were shaking and running up my sleeves, rather than going through the trained patterns, but I kept going. Eventually, the music stopped, but the rats were still traumatized.
- I learned later that the entire experiment had to be abandoned because every time the rats were exposed to the training site, they experienced what we would now probably call, Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. They quivered and refused to move, etc. I secretly considered it to be an amazing “pay-back” for the professor who had gotten out of line the week before graduation.
What was the dress code like? Was it strictly enforced? Did girls wear pants to class? Did people dress up for class?
- The idea that we “dressed up for class” is false. We did not wear pants to class, but many of us did not bother to “dress up”. It was, after all, an all girls’ school. I loved the fact that I did not have to dress up to go to the library or to the dining hall. We all wore similar skirts and blouses and sweaters, but it was only because it was “stylish”, not because we were required to dress in a certain way.
What was dating like? How did you ladies meet guys? Were you allowed to have guys on campus and of not, did students do it anyway? When you did go on dates where did you go and what did you do?
- Many of us dated men from UVA, Randolph Macon, VMI, VPI, etc. We also had lots of classmates who dated Marines from Quantico. We were not allowed to have men (other than our fathers or brothers) in our rooms. Dates had to come to the lobby to call for us when we went out and we had curfews and “grace minutes” that we could use if we were a few minutes late making it in before curfew. We had Housemothers who lived in our dorms and who were there to see that we were in on time. When we dated in Fredericksburg, we went to several restaurants for dinner, or to the movies or to “Carl’s” for ice cream. Once we were of legal drinking age, we often went to Mitchell’s, which was a bar/ dance hall just over the 10/20(?) mile (I don’t remember which) limit outside of Fredericksburg. We were not allowed to drink within the radius of the campus.
What was the atmosphere if campus, did it stress academics or more of the social life? What did you do for fun? Was there a lot of partying on campus? What did you do when you went out?
- The atmosphere on campus was definitely one of academics. We did not “party” on campus. We had fun, lots of it, in our dorms and around campus, but it was definitely not the place where we would party. We went off campus to do that.