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Global Experiences and Leadership: Agnes Scott College for Women

Transformative. Life-changing. Immersive. These are words that students at Agnes Scott College, just outside of Atlanta, use to describe the faculty-led global journeys that all students take during their freshman year.

These journeys, which are included in tuition, are far from traditional tourist experiences. Instead, students at the women’s college take a deep dive into the country they’re visiting:  building a school in Bolivia, cooking with a family in Ghana, or braving a severe blizzard in Canada, for example. Journeys also can take place in U.S. locations like New York City or New Orleans.

“It is one of the experiences that I feel is going to mold me into who I’m going to be,” says Kirsten Jackson, a senior political science major.

Jackson’s time in the Dominican Republic, volunteering in a Haitian Creole village, reframed her outlook on life. “I left that trip feeling so grateful,” she says. “It was a reality check for a lot of us.”

Liberal Arts in Action

Launched in 2015, the global journeys are part of Agnes Scott’s innovative SUMMIT curriculum. SUMMIT rounds out an already robust liberal arts education that boasts 34 different majors and an average class size of just 16. In fact, the college was ranked No. 1 for “Most Innovative Liberal Arts College in the Country” and No. 2 for “Best Undergraduate Teaching” in U.S. News & World Report, 2019 Best Colleges.

SUMMIT builds on the college’s mission: “To educate women to think deeply, live honorably, and engage the intellectual and social challenges of their times.” To do that, Agnes Scott infuses its liberal arts curriculum with global learning and leadership development opportunities through classes, real-world experiences, and other offerings.

As part of the curriculum, students get access to their own personal board of advisors to help guide their studies. They also develop a digital portfolio of their work to use as they apply for jobs or graduate school.

From the start, the SUMMIT curriculum has been a success, says Elaine Meyer-Lee, associate vice president for global learning and leadership development and a professor of psychology. Student retention is on the rise, student satisfaction numbers are up, and more students are enrolling. The 2018-19 freshmen class totals 324, up 44 percent from the year before SUMMIT began.

“We are exactly positioned to equip students to become leaders in this very diverse and complex society,” Meyer-Lee says.

Young Women Empowered

Of course, the college experience isn’t just about scholarly studies. On this all-women campus, Agnes Scott students are empowered to build on the leadership lessons they learn in the classroom through the college’s more than 60 clubs and by venturing into bustling Atlanta, which offers even more opportunities to shine.

“In a world where women face so many barriers, Agnes is a place that makes everything we hope to do seem attainable because we are surrounded by a community of women who strive to break those barriers,” says Jackson, who serves as president of the college’s Honor Court. She is also a senior resident assistant and tour guide for prospective “Scotties.” Off campus, she works with Atlanta-area colleges as a fellow with IGNITE National, a national nonprofit that encourages young women to become political leaders.

“I am forever grateful for my experience at Agnes Scott,” Jackson says. “I’ve had so much support from my family, faculty, and administration. I feel like I’m ready for whatever lies before me.”


  • Founded: 1889
  • Undergraduates: 1,006
  • Student-Faculty Ratio: 10:1
  • Average Class Size: 16
  • Majors/Minors: 34/31, with dual degree opportunities in nursing, engineering and computer science through local public universities
  • Sports: 6 NCAA Division III teams
  • Campus Organizations: 60+
  • Enrollment deadline: March 15, 2019
  • agnesscott.edu