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Vidhushi Tikoo , Hindustan Times
Mumbai, June 13, 2008
Sophia College premises used to be a palace. As an institution, it has retained not just the Victorian architecture, but also the class.

Accredited A by the National Academic Accreditation Council, it is best known for literature and psychology. The women's college is a favourite with students coming from outside Mumbai, who comprise 25 per cent of the lot. The leafy premises in the middle of bustling south Mumbai provides the perfect campus experience. Families who want their daughters to get quality education in an all-girls environment feel drawn to it.

"The best part of the college is that it gives a student opportunity to grow and find a niche for herself. There are students from all kinds of backgrounds. The college programs you such that you don't feel inferior to boys," said Ria Iyengar, third year mass media student.

The college is starting with a common instrument lab for advance research in neurosciences and Master of Science courses. Construction of a new computer lab will start from October.

The college is known for promoting student research and has a degree course in biosciences with a focus on neuroscience. Its polytechnic courses range from baking to social service. There is a Women's Centre for feminist studies.

The annual inter-collegiate festival, Kaleidoscope, is one of the most popular fests in the city. The college has adopted two municipal schools and a rural school where college students voluntarily teach.

"Sophia has a very good administration and there is a good rapport between students and professors. I had a notion of it being a typical, staid women's college but the tremendous response and enthusiasm among students changed my perception," said V. Gangadhar, visiting faculty for Bachelor of Mass Media at Sophia's.

The hangouts include a shack called Andapao, which has been there for years and a café, Under the Banyan Tree.

Societies and clubs form a part of college activities like the Bharatiya Sanskrit Parishad, Sophia College English Drama Association, International Relations Society and French Club, which conduct their own festivals and invite guest lecturers and personalities. Weekend treks and trips are regular club activities.

Sophia College for Women
Bhulabhai Desai Road, Mumbai-400 026
Tel: 2351 2642 / 2352 3304
Web: www.sophiacollegemumbai.com

Alumni:
Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, MP Priya Dutt, actor Karisma Kapoor, dancers Leela Samson and Radha Reddy, TV scriptwriter Parvati Balgopalan, novelist Gita Mehta.

The Past: Set up in 1940, Sophia College for Women is run by the Society for Higher Education of Women in India, a trust belonging to the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which was founded in 1800. It was steered by Sophia's first principal, Mother Catherine Anderson, from the English Vicariate, and a group of young nuns. The college is affiliated to international network of Sacred Heart schools and college, which has a 200-year-old history of education pioneered by educationist Madeline Sophie Barat in France.

Best known for:
An excellent, girls' college with accommodation. Twenty-five percent of the students at Sophia are from outside Mumbai. The hostel, with a capacity of 105, is therefore in great demand. Science and arts subjects are in great demand.

Previous year's cut off:
Science - 75 per cent, arts - 55 per cent

Expert quote:
"Being the only women's college of the Mumbai University, it enjoys a unique position and enables women to flower in a protective environment. There are a variety of courses which produce much sought after professionals.",says Rupa Shah, educationist, former vice chancellor, SNDT Women's University

Alumni speak:
"Sophia College has played a very important part in my life. In my last year in college, I decided to accompany my father Sunil Dutt on the Maharashtra Padyatra. I knew that if I went for the yatra, I would not be allowed to write my examinations and end up losing a year. I was in a real fix. One teacher, Sister Penny, told me that no matter how many times I repeated college, I would never gain the knowledge and experience I would get if I went for the padyatra. With her backing me, I went for the procession and had to repeat the year. But I have never regretted that decision.", says Priya Dutt, Member of Parliament.