Freshman Women at Duke University Battle 'Effortless Perfection'
By Maura Jane Farrelly, VoA News
New York - March 28, 2005 - Every year, thousands of American students go away to college for the first time… and 4 years later, they
graduate with a greater understanding of not just the intellectual ideas that have shaped their society, but also of themselves - who they are,
how they want to be viewed by their peers, and where they fit in. But these social lessons are not always empowering. Indeed, many young
women at America's top universities are graduating with a sense of self that is destructive and debilitating.
Alison Perlberg, 18, is a first-year student at Duke University, one of the highest-rated colleges in the United States. She worked hard to
graduate at the top of her high school class in Atlanta, Georgia, and she says she continues to study hard here at Duke. But, by her own
admission, academics are not always the first thing on Alison Perlberg's mind when she heads off to class each day.
"Sometimes there's a lot of competition," she says. "You'll walk into your class in sweatpants and a t-shirt and look around and notice that some
people are wearing make-up, and you think, 'Oh, no, should I have been wearing make-up? I didn't spend enough time getting ready this
Alison Perlberg is one of 18 female students selected to be a part of Duke's new Baldwin Scholars program. The initiative was launched this
year, after the university took a serious look at the status of women on its campus. It found that many of Duke's undergraduate women were
entering the university with a great deal of self-confidence, but were graduating 4 years later with eating disorders, stress-related illnesses, and