The excruciating disappointment of applying to Deep Springs College, then finding out that because of a lawsuit, they're not going co-ed after all
"Isolated," "labor-intensive," and "rural" are not typical keywords for a high school girl's college dream. But they were for mine. With a student body of 26 and an emphasis on manual labor, Deep Springs was unlike any college I had heard of. Students enroll for two years and receive full-tuition scholarships, then transfer to a four-year college program to complete their degrees. Admissions are extremely competitive—accepted students have an average score of 700 (out of 800) on each of the math and verbal sections of the SAT. Located in California's High Desert, the school has a cattle ranch and an alfalfa farm, where students are not only obligated to their education but also to the demands of the agriculture around them. Deep Springs emphasizes self-governance; students belong to committees to make important decisions about the school, from hiring new teachers to soliciting media attention. The school uses these three pillars of education—physical labor, immersive academics, and democratic deliberation—to fulfill its purpose of creating students who dedicate their lives to service of humanity.
But there's one more thing. Since its founding in 1917, Deep Springs has been an all-male institution. A couple years ago, as I enviously clicked through the Deep Springs website, the opportunity to attend was not open to me. Little did I know, at the same time, the Board of Trustees had entered a process to challenge the all-male tradition. In the fall of 2011, they announced at their bi-annual meeting that they had come to the monumental decision to open their doors (or more likely, their gates) to female applicants. In what seemed like fate calling out to me, the first class of women would enter in 2013, the year I graduate from high school.
I was attracted to the intensity of Deep Springs—to the thought of dedicating myself to an unfamiliar and challenging experience for two years. I wanted to immerse myself in my education, to get away from the noise and distraction of society and gain introspective awareness and keen focus.