This is going to be real talk right now.
Hollins is a place that is great on the surface, but once you get in, the truth really comes out (as with most places). Now, I met my best friend, and several groups of strong, friendly, independent and amazing lifelong friends at Hollins. Every other girl on campus whom I did not befriend, I can say that I passionately hated.
Girls at Hollins are varied in terms of personality, but those who are in the extremes generally stick together.
1) the lesbians.
the lesbians can be nice, or can be bitches. they can be neutral, or they could be the legends on campus, they could be friendly to everyone, or they could be convinced that your views are oppressing them at all times.
2) the preps.
the snooty girls. the ones who are involved in campus activities. the girls who wear dresses and pearls and wear makeup just to go to dinner. These girls are easy to spot, because everyone's high school was full of them. They are no different than they were in high school, and they will make no effort to grow as a person, they will only manipulate those around them and those above them into believing they are better people than they were. They will make your life hell if cross one of them. They will be your acquantaince freshman year, and then you will be transparent, unless you are thin, preppy, and raging partiers like them.
3) The Otakus
Otaku is a hallway of one dorm that is full of girls who are obsessed with anime and television and movies. They are their own clique, even harder to get into than the preps. They are loud as hell, they are obnoxious, they are opinionated enough to have enemies, and they turn in fanfiction in creative writing classes. (One of them I know, bathed once a week at most).
4) The Normals
Normals are typically atypical. They can be any major, any shape, any color. They are friendly to everyone, polite, but once they make friends freshman or sophomore year, they're not really open for more than classroom acquaintances. They can be gay or straight, they are smart, they can form their own little groups, but they don't draw attention to themselves.
5) The Minorities
Call me racist to have these girls be their own number, but I will say that they range from preppy to normal. They just stick to people of their own color, if you know what I mean. A good number of them are friends with the white girls, but when it comes to dining or parties, they stick together. One section of the dining hall is split between the black girls and the foreign exchange girls. Or, the "blasians" as they were dubbed by some.
The faculty are hit and miss. I majored in Creative Writing. There are three creative writing classes, but the third you can take as many times as you wish. Your first creative writing class is taught by a graduate student. Your second, has an option of three professors, and your third is a choice of five professors. By the time you get to the third class, you will know which professors you like and the ones that you don't. If you are a fantasy writer like me, then you will learn that only two of the professors think that fantasy is worthy of perfecting. One professor does not think that fantasy is Literature, and that it is a plague upon the literary world. His daughter is now the US Poet Laureate. Scary, huh?
My favorite professor at Hollins helped my writing immensely, was my advisor for a thesis-like independent study, and got me into graduate school. She was my writing guardian angel - but to my best friend - was the meanest, most unhelpful professor in the department. So hit and miss - see what I mean?
The creative writing program is one of the largest in terms of participation. A lot of girls come to Hollins because of that program. And they should, because it is great. It has its faults, it doesn't teach anything in terms of getting published or finding an agent. But it is also elitist. There are four professors who control the choosing of the honors students. Only the honors girls get to write theses senior year (the rest of us - majority of us - have to grovel for independent studies or just not have an edited novel to shop around post-graduation). Basically you have to be a favorite, or take multiple classes and be known to one of these four professors to get a thesis. If you're good at winning popularity contests, then you're golden I guess.
The students in creative writing range from the girls just taking it to get one of their gen-ed requirements, the girl who just wants to try it, the girls who want to be authors, the girls who want to be young-adult authors, the girls who take their work too seriously, the girls who get defensive about everything - who are ironically also the girls who are cruel during workshops, and the girls who just want to get better and graduate. This range of people are in charge of "constructively" criticizing your work every two weeks. These people can say anything from "I didn't get it" to "this is shit" to "this could be worded better" to "you need to give up writing immediately." When the professor says at the beginning of class that they will fail anyone who is needlessly cruel - they won't. SO bear that in mind as well.
Hollins doesn't do much to prevent underage drinking. Even/Especially in school-sponsored events.
Hollins doesn't have co-ed parties, and if they do, they are at the apartments off campus, and with the preppy girls boyfriends / their friends in direct proportion to the preppy girls who are trying to get set up.
There is only one dining hall. My first three years there was only one dining plan, and it was very expensive for the quality we were getting. I am not a picky eater in the slightest, but there were still days where I could not find a single thing to eat. The tiny restaurant in the basement only has burgers and fried things and some wraps, but isn't included in the dining program, and you're given $100 on your card per semester to spend there.
I had one friend who ate a chicken sandwich from there and then two hours later projectile vomited it all over her dorm room. So there's that.
Hollins is a beautiful campus. I loved it. I loved every dorm I was in, and they offer a lot of opportunities to avoid random roommates and the housing lottery. Freshman year, you get placed in Tinker or Randy with a stranger. If you choose to apply to a specialty house, then you avoid the housing lottery and get to choose a room there. I only had to live with a roommate two semesters out of eight.
The rooms in pretty much every dorm are huge, much bigger and better than any of the other campuses I looked at before Hollins. Some singles are coffins, but you learn where to get a single and where not to.
The people who work in Residence Life are mean as hell. They will not help you, they will not protect you, and they will screw you over at one point or another (unless you live in a specialty house!).
My good friend lived in Otaku hall, her roommate stole from her, and Res Life did not do anything about it. Then the roommate gathered a group of girls from the hall, jumped my friend, and beat her up for almost an hour in the hallway. The director of Res Life did not believe my friend (despite the bruises, the blood, and the evidence) - the director offered no help to my friend in switching dorms, until my friend's mother, who is in the military, made a call. Then my friend was put in a single in the senior dorm - and the director was fired. A sophomore living in the senior dorm was unheard of, and she was chastised in the building for it - not to mention the director was well liked among the preps for givin special treatment - so they didn't like my friend for that either...
Now that being said, the campus is NOT as safe as girls think. Hollins campus has a national rating of "D" in terms of campus safety. The campus is open, anyone at any time can enter campus on foot or by car and just be there. The doors to dorms have the ID scanners, but sometimes girls leave doors open. If you walk to / from your car at night, theres plenty of time for someone in their car to drive up and take you. When I was a sophomore, a girl was raped in the laundry room at the apartments. He walked right into the complex (because there is no security at all - in fact it shares a parking lot with a restaurant) and hid right inside the door of the laundry room and jumped her. The campus emailed us about the "alleged" rape and put a lock on the door knob and gave apartment girls keys. The campus has NO security cameras. The campus security cars will stop if they see you in distress, but mostly they are prowling campus looking for parking violations (because they have nothing better to do). The blue-light towers for emergencies are spaced out fairly well, with the big emergency help button. The chances of reaching one are completely up to your physical fitness and the attacker's knowledge of the campus (which he has free reign to be inside at all times). Any girl who feels 100% safe on Hollins campus is a blind fool.
Hollins offers TONS of internships, for the winter term and the summer.
Hollins has the BEST study abroad program I have ever researched. They have their own campuses in Paris and London, along with their own faculty and classes (with opportunities to take classes at a local partner college as well). I studied abroad in London and it was amazing.
The programs Hollins is affiliated with in other countries aren't as well-provided by Hollins because they don't have their own faculty and classes to cater to, but they are still great.
To make the long story short (too late) I can not explain why I LOVE Hollins so much, but despise how many things are run and more than half of the girls I graduated with I would be happy to never see again in my lifetime. I can not explain my deep loyalty to the campus in terms of wanting people to go there, but also wanting to give them the inconvenient truth before they find themselves let down by the discovery on their own.Go to Hollins if you love it, if you want to be different and have your differences be accepted and not shamed. Go to Hollins if you don't want to take anything too seriously. Go to Hollins if you want to take classes in every genre and almost every subject, and still get good grades. Go to Hollins if you don't want to go to graduate school, because then you will have a prestigious degree without getting your ass kicked by the textbooks (though no promises about textbook COSTS).