Admission and the First-Year Experience


Mary Baldwin’s traditional undergraduate program, the Residential College for Women (RCW), includes the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership and the Program for the Exceptionally Gifted. Mary Baldwin also offers undergraduate programs designed specifically for adults through its Adult Degree Program, as well as graduate programs in Shakespeare and Performance, health sciences (opening in 2014), and Graduate Teacher Education (see the Graduate Studies section for information on graduate admissions).

If you are applying for an undergraduate program, you can apply for admission after your junior year in high school, for admission to the fall or spring semesters, or as a transfer student. You may enter with advanced placement, dual enrollment credit, or credit for advanced work by the International Baccalaureate or by tests of the College Entrance Examination Board. You may attend full-time or, if you live in the area, part-time. As an especially gifted student, you may enter well before completing high school. If you are 18 years or older, or have earned an associate’s degree, you may enter the Adult Degree Program, with its special provisions for adult learners who have many demands on their schedules and energies. Please see the Mary Baldwin College website or the Contact Information section for more information on admission to each MBC program.

First-Year Admission

Admission to Mary Baldwin is based on a student’s academic potential; achievement in secondary school, when applicable; strength and maturity of character; and any special talents and abilities. In judging academic ability, the secondary school record, when applicable, is the primary factor considered.

Candidates for admission should have completed at least 16 college preparatory courses. The college recommends that candidates include four or five academic subjects in their course loads each year in meeting the following recommended school program: English, four units; foreign language, two units; mathematics, three units; history and social studies, three units; and lab science, one unit.

Scores considered in the admissions process are those on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), the American College Test (ACT), or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

All students who enroll at Mary Baldwin College agree to abide by the rules, regulations, and standards set and established by the college. The college in turn will offer a bachelor of arts, bachelor of science, bachelor of social work, master of letters or master of fine arts in Shakespeare and Performance, or a master of education or master of arts in teaching to those who meet the established standards, and will attempt during a student’s tenure to lend advice and support as solicited and/or needed.

The Declarations section of this catalog states Mary Baldwin’s policies on nondiscrimination, student privacy rights, and other important provisions.

Personal Interviews

A personal interview on campus with an admissions counselor is suggested for students seeking admission. Appointments for an interview and tour of the campus should be made in advance. Refer to the college calendar in this catalog for the dates when the college is in session. The Office of Admissions is open Monday through Friday all year, except for short periods during the Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas holidays. During academic sessions, the Admissions Office is open on Saturday mornings. During the summer months, it is not open on Saturday. Visit the website or call 800-468-2262 or 540-887-7019 to schedule an appointment.

Transfer Students

Mary Baldwin will consider students for admission to the freshman, sophomore, or junior class by way of transfer from colleges and universities accredited by regional accrediting agencies or the American Association for Liberal Education. A transfer application must include transcripts of all college work taken and a transcript from the secondary school.

Applications for the fall semester should be filed with the Office of Admissions during the prior winter or spring, and notification will be made when the file of credentials is complete. For entrance in the spring semester, applications should arrive before December 1. An evaluation of credits will be made after the final transcript arrives from the institution from which the student is transferring. A non-refundable advance deposit of $300 must be received by December 30 for students entering in January.

In evaluating transfer applications, emphasis is placed on the previous college record. As a general guideline, transfer students should have an average of 2.0 or better in their college work in order to be approved for transfer to Mary Baldwin. Only courses with grades of “C-” or higher, or “passing” grades in acceptable internships, will be accepted for transfer credit, and each course will be considered separately.

Transfer students coming into the Residential College for Women must earn a minimum of 63 semester hours at Mary Baldwin and spend two years in full-time attendance. For further information, refer to the section in this catalog on Requirements for the Bachelor’s Degree.

Part-Time Degree-Seeking Students

Students who live close to the college and wish to complete their bachelor’s degree requirements by class attendance on the Mary Baldwin College campus may do so on a part-time basis. They are subject to the same admission requirements as other entering students.

Leadership Gateways and the First-Year Experience

All new undergraduate students have the benefit of membership in a gateway program offering support, direction, and connection. The Adult Degree Program functions as a Gateway for non-traditional students. International students also have their own Gateway which includes intentional cultural, academic, and social immersion. Residential College for Women students may choose one of ten Leadership Gateways.

For first-year students, Gateways are a critical component of MBC’s unique first-year experience. Our first-year curriculum includes an orientation to college course and specially designed first-year courses which assist in the transition to college. Throughout the first year, students work closely with an advising team made up of faculty, staff, and peer advisors. Each team is tied to a Leadership Gateway which integrates co-curricular interests and activities into the academic curriculum. The purposes of the first-year experience are to inspire in students an interest in and enthusiasm for active learning, and to provide support in building successful studentship. Additional supports are available through our Learning Skills Center with peer-led tutoring and mentoring resources, and through residential programming.

First-Year Students in the Residential College for Women enter through the following Gateways with individualized orientation programs which introduce them to the college and local communities, their advising teams, and their peers. These Gateways provide students with a learning community based upon co-curricular interests. Gateway Orientation is followed by an Academic Orientation and a full Weekend of Welcome for all students. National data and MBC’s experience demonstrate that focused first-year experience programs, such as that provided through the Leadership Gateways, enhance student success.

Arts Gateway

Directors, Morgan Smith, web producer, and Phoebe West, graphic designer

Students interested in the Arts Gateway are passionate about visual, performing, and literary arts. They want to explore the influence of creative thinking in everyday life. Whether they have aspirations to become scientists, businesswomen, historians, or artists, students in the Arts Gateway strongly believe in the power of fresh thinking and original expression.

Students in this gateway will have the opportunity to attend local and regional arts events and exhibitions, visit the spaces and places that inspire, meet others who share an appreciation of the arts, and participate in activities designed to challenge and develop the creative mind.

• MBC 101 Orientation to College

Career Academy Gateway

Director, Julie Chappell, director of career development services

MBC’s innovative liberal arts education for the 21st century is the perfect preparation for satisfying careers in almost every field imaginable. This gateway helps students focus on their talents, interests, and abilities; find the right major; and translate their education into a lifetime of work that is inspiring.

Students in this gateway will participate in a variety of extra-curricular activities and opportunities related to personal and career development, including the Successful Women Series and Picture-It Photo journaling project. After the first year, students may serve as peer mentors and many choose to continue in the program until graduation.

• MBC 101 Orientation to College and the Career Academy
• Interdisciplinary 177 Taking the Liberal Arts to Work
• One of the following courses is recommended: Interdisciplinary 118 Managing Life’s Challenges; Philosophy 140 Community and Service Learning; or Sociology 282 Community Service and Society

Commuter Gateway (Suburbanites)

Director, Janet Ewing, associate professor of business

It need not be difficult for non-residential, local students to stay informed and connected. New commuter students from Staunton and surrounding areas will find support and networking opportunities among each other and upper-class commuter students. With a variety of ways to get involved on campus, Suburbanites will immerse themselves in the college community to become vibrant and active members of MBC both in and out of the classroom.

This Gateway helps the commuter student navigate the first-year transition and become fully involved in the college community, while maintaining her ties and responsibilities home.

Early College Gateway

Director, Stephanie Ferguson, executive director of early college and director of the Program for the Exceptionally Gifted

This gateway is for students who have been accepted to either the Program for the Exceptionally Gifted (PEG) or Early College Academy (ECA).  PEG is a radical acceleration program that allows students as young as 13 to skip high school and dive right into college, living within a community of their intellectual and social peers. ECA enables academically talented students to start college after their junior year of high school. Many of these students complete their high school degree during their first year at Mary Baldwin.

Students in this gateway are invited to participate in other age-appropriate co-curricular and extra-curricular activities that are social, cultural, or just for fun. PEG students live in the PEG Center, a living-learning community with adult advisors in the building 24 hours a day.

• MBC 101 Introduction to College
• MBC 102 An Investigation of the Arts, which includes participation with the American Shakespeare Center actors and scholars at the Blackfriars Playhouse, or MBC 103 An Investigation of the Sciences, which focuses on how science is integrated across disciplines and explores opportunities to engage in research and projects beginning in your First Year.
• ENG 101 Intermediate Composition: PEG

Note: Additional application and interview are required.

Healthy Lifestyles Gateway

Director, Mary VanNortwick, wellness dietitian and assistant director of dining services

This gateway is designed for young women who want practice and promote healthy and active lifestyles as the foundation of their college life and studies. Gateway experiences are designed to provide exposure to all facets of the wellness spectrum.

Students will have the opportunity to help plan community-based activities such as the Girls and Women’s Health Fair and Wellness Walk, in conjunction with Women’s Health Virginia; volunteer with the Women’s Health Initiative; and work with Physical Education, Dining Services, the Health Center, and other campus life offices to help learn and promote healthy lifestyle practices. Each student also completes a personalized fitness and wellness assessment leading to an individualized wellness plan. After their first year, students may work as wellness mentor and assist with programming for new freshmen entering the program.

• MBC 101 Orientation to College and the Healthy Lifestyles program
• Phys Ed 102 Topics in Principles of Health

Honors Gateway

Director, Carol Creager, director of Grafton Library

For high-achieving students who are passionate about intellectual pursuits and global perspectives, this gateway offers a challenging and engaging path to achievement through a rich array of classes; experiential learning; and connections on campus, in the local community, and beyond our borders.

• Honors MBC 101 Orientation to College and to Research and Scholarship Opportunities
• MBC 102 An Investigation of the Arts, which includes participation with the American Shakespeare Center actors and scholars at the Blackfriars Playhouse or MBC 103 An Investigation of the Sciences, which focuses on how science is integrated across disciplines and explores opportunities to engage in research and projects beginning in the first year.

Note: By invitation only

Interfaith Explorations Gateway

Director, Katherine Low, chaplain and assistant professor of religion

The Interfaith Explorations Gateway offers students meaningful encounters with a variety of religious, spiritual, and philosophical traditions and pathways. Through cooperative activities and events, students witness the multiple ways in which people of faith live according to shared values.

Students are required to attend three conversations or events their first semester. Examples of events include the Fall Faith Fair, the World Religions and Peacemaking Lecture, and Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week spiritual activities.

• MBC 101: Orientation to College
• REL 130: Faith, Life, and Service

Latino Culture Gateway

Director, Joanne Harris, director of diversity and advocacy

Designed for students who are interested in exploring the history and heritage of Latino cultures around the world, the Latino Culture Gateway enhances one of Mary Baldwin’s greatest strengths: diversity.

Music, art, food, dance, and literature help shape Gateway activities. Students will assist in planning events for Hispanic History Month and work with upper-class students involved in the on-campus group, Latinas Unidas. Resources will be provided in Spanish and English.

• A section of MBC 101 specifically designed for students in the Latino Culture Gateway
• Recommended courses: Spanish language courses and Spanish 127 U.S. Latino Literature and Culture

Spencer Citizens Gateway

Director, Steve Grande, executive director of the Spencer Center for Civic and Global Engagement

Spencer Citizens have a passion for service whether it’s in the local or global arena. Multi-cultural experiences and travel opportunities enable participants to become agents of change, understanding that at the heart of leadership is service to others.

Students in this gateway take part in community service projects and assist with Spencer Center for Civic and Global Engagement activities throughout the year, such as Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week and the International Café Series. After their first year, Spencer Citizens have the opportunity to become Citizen Fellows.

• MBC 101 Orientation to College and the Spencer Citizens Program
• CE 102 The Reflective Self in Community
• Recommended courses: Philosophy 140 Community and Service Learning or Sociology 282 Community Service and Society

Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership (VWIL) Gateway

Director, Melissa Patrick, deputy commandant of cadets and director of academics

Through rigor, intense challenge, and mutual support, VWIL is a four-year leader development program which integrates theoretical instruction with practical application so that graduates have the knowledge, skills, character, and experience to assume positions of leadership in the military, public service, and private sectors in the United States and around the world. Using a holistic approach emphasizing moral and ethical development, VWIL combines military leadership development training (through ROTC as well as the VWIL Corps) with civilian approaches. The VWIL Corps is the only all-female corps of cadets in the nation.

VWIL’s leader development program integrates five major components:
• Academic curriculum
• Physical education and fitness
• Military leadership (ROTC)
• Co-curricular program
• Leadership experience

Academic Curriculum
VWIL’s students, in addition to completing both the college’s General Education requirements and an academic major, complete the following additional requirements, some of which may also count toward the General Education Requirements:
• All VWIL students are required to complete a minor in Leadership Studies, which includes three interdisciplinary leadership core courses addressing history and theories of leadership, ethics and community, and the practice of leadership
• A leadership internship
• At least eight semester hours in two natural science disciplines to satisfy the total General Education Requirement
• Three math and quantitative reasoning courses to include Math 150 or above, a Math elective, and a statistics course
• A communication course
• INT 177 The Citizen Soldier
• Non-commissioning students complete course work in either the Business or Community and Social Change emphases of the Leadership Studies minor.
• Other specified courses that meet General Education requirements in Ethics, Women’s Studies, and International Studies selected from VWIL program listings

Physical Education and Fitness
Regular physical training is required, as well as the completion of the Strength and Endurance Test at periodic intervals.

Advanced fitness is required during the Freshman year.

The VWIL freshman experience starts with Wilderness and continues with the Leadership Challenge Program (LCP).

A networking activities class (ballroom dance, golf, racquetball, or tennis) and one other physical and health education course are completed in subsequent years.

Military Leadership
VWIL students are required to complete a minimum of two years of ROTC in one of the four services. Classes are conducted either at MBC or the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia.  Those seeking commissions continue with ROTC through the junior and senior years.

Co-curricular Program
The co-curricular components provide the contexts within which VWIL students develop and practice leadership skills in an environment of increasing freedom and responsibility. VWIL students live together and meet standards for room neatness, additional study provisions, and conform to disciplinary rules and regulations. Through participation in Mary Baldwin college activities and classroom experiences, they balance cadet life and student life. VWIL students adhere to both the Mary Baldwin and the VWIL codes of conduct.

Students in this leadership program live and learn together as sister nULLs, participating in formations, parades, strength and endurance training, and seminars oriented toward career interests and leadership development. Drill team, marching band, and Honor Guard are other available opportunities.

Leadership Experience Opportunities
Beginning in their sophomore year, students will assume leadership positions in the Corps, continuing to live together and holding to a code of professional standards. They have the opportunity to hold rank in the regiment and/or positions within the VWIL class system.  They are also encouraged to become active in the Mary Baldwin Student Government Association. As part of the Leadership minor, all VWIL students will complete a leadership internship.

• MBC 101 Orientation to College and VWIL
• ROTC: Army, Air Force, Navy/Marines (commissioning optional)
• Physical Education: Leadership Challenge, Wilderness Adventure, Advanced Fitness

Note: Additional application and interview is required