What are women’s colleges like?
In the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to visit several outstanding women’s colleges. Some of these schools operate totally independently, while others have close interchanges with nearby coeducational institutions or are members of consortia with nearby coeducational schools through which students can enroll in a certain number of classes and take advantage of athletic and other facilities at member institutions.
In any case, the all-female colleges offer their students outstanding and abundant opportunities to excel in their areas of interest and to develop their leadership and organizational skills without the perceived competition and sometimes unrealistic presuppositions about male and female abilities which may exist, however subconsciously, in a coeducational institution. These colleges offer a full range of courses in a wide range of subjects, and numerous extracurricular, sports, and social opportunities are available. Research the schools in which you are interested carefully to determine their actual academic offerings and areas of academic and extracurricular focus and strength.
According to a recent study conducted at the University of Essex in England, young women do significantly better in single-sex classes than in a coeducational environment. The study notes that students at all-female institutions tend to exhibit more self-confidence in their classes and are able to develop stronger leadership skills. This phenomenon has long been held to be true, but the Essex study emphasizes the point.
On the other side of the coin, it could be argued that young women need to learn to put themselves forward and succeed in a male-female environment, since that is representative of “real life”. An education at a women’s college could be considered a stepping stone, however, in that it can provide an opportunity for a young women to experience fully being the focus of the education process and to develop her leadership abilities without experiencing gender pressure. She would then be able to take this honed sense of self into the male-female workplace.
There are lots of advantages to attending a women’s college. According to research, women’s college graduates achieve at a higher level in their careers, earn more in salary, have longer lasting relationships with classmates, and have a higher level of loyalty to their colleges. There tends to be greater opportunity for women in these colleges, as well; the vast majority of leadership positions in coed colleges are held by men, where obviously 100% of leadership positions in women’s colleges are held by women. Equally obviously, 100% of research opportunities at women’s colleges are open only to women. But what about men on campus? While some women’s colleges don’t have many men on campus, others that are situated near coed schools routinely see men on campus, either taking classes there or just visiting. Besides, can you think of a bigger “guy magnet” than a college full of women? Even if you’ve never considered a women’s college, keep your mind open to the idea and do some research, including asking questions of current students.
I have visited some of the top women’s colleges in the country and always had a tremendous experience. As a woman myself, I normally come away from the visit with a real sense of empowerment – which is the sort of environment that all of these campuses seek to foster. And clearly it works!
Women’s colleges are not, however, cloisters or regimented institutions where men are bashed and suffrage is taught as a part of each course. In fact, there seems to be more self-awareness and confidence in the young women I’ve met during my campus tours and none of them complain about a lack of a social life or restrictions on dating. In fact, they seem to have more active social lives than some other students I’ve encountered! In fact, I often find myself forgetting that I’m on a women’s college campus until halfway through the tour when either a guide mentions something pertaining to that fact or I scan a room and suddenly realize that there aren’t any male students around.
For students who are skeptical about women’s colleges or feel that they might be too restrictive, I encourage them to sign up and take a tour at one just to see how they feel once they’re on campus. While you’re there, you’ll also learn that most women’s colleges have relationships with nearby co-ed schools as a general rule – and many have exchange programs where male students can take some classes there and the female students can travel from the women’s college to the other school to take classes there. Mount Holyoke and Smith, notably, are part of the Five Colleges Consortium that allows their female students to take co-ed classes at nearby Hampshire, U Mass Amherst, or Amherst and allows male students to attend classes on their campuses if they choose.
Probably boring for some w/o any guys. However, they’re probably great for the vast amount of women students. Being a guy, I don’t have the best answer.
Probably boring for some w/o any guys. However, they’re probably great for the vast amount of women students. That’s really a silly question.
Women’s colleges are colleges that enroll only female students. While modern ones often have arrangements with co-ed schools so that classes in fact may include males, all residential, organizational, and athletic programs serve and include the schools’ enrolled female population. The history of these schools harkens back to a time when it was often believe that women should not be educated and so they were not accepted into the traditional schools that were intended to serve and prepare the nation’s future male leaders. Obviously attitudes changed and as the United States moved deeper into the 20th century almost all formerly all male schools started to admit women, a fact that altered the nature of all women’s colleges many of which went co-ed. However a substantive number have survived and flourished, offering opportunities for women to pursue a high level education in an atmosphere lacking in social distractions. Studies have shown that such a setting allow for even greater development of their intellectual and leadership skills.
They vary considerable and need to be considered on their individual merits.
Women’s colleges are like any other college…without the men. For some, learning in an environment that is free of potential gender bias is liberating, both personally and academically. Much of the boy/girl social focus that can be such a large part of the co-ed college experience is significantly diminished, often freeing students up in many ways to invest their energies in learning, personal growth, and the development of friendships.
Keep in mind that women’s colleges aren’t nunneries; boys certainly aren’t everywhere you look, but I’ve never heard a student at a women’s college complain that she never met members of the opposite sex. The real world is always just beyond those college gates, and the guys are always still out there.
For young women who are looking for challenging, yet nurturing college environments — women’s colleges can be a great fit.
Most women’s colleges are small liberal arts colleges that provide small class sizes, lots of opportunities to interact with faculty, and a strong, cohesive community. Many women’s colleges are also part of a large network of colleges so that students can cross-register and also participate in many activities outside of their home college. Mount Holyoke and Smith College are two women’s colleges that are part of the Five College Consortium along with UMass Amherst, Amherst College, and Hampshire College. Similarly, women who attend Scripps College in Los Angeles can also take courses at the other schools in the Claremont Consortium — which includes Pitzer, Pomona, Harvey Mudd, and Claremont McKenna.
The only difference between co-ed and women’s colleges is the lack of men. Facilities, degrees offered, opportunities, extracurriculars, athletics are still available and often at a higher quality. Without men to compete against, women say they are able to develop their leadership skills better. Research and lab experiences abound, alumni and career connections tend to be strong. And then there’s the lack of distraction aspect that comes from an absence of the opposite gender. While a single gender experience isn’t for everyone, and some would say there is greater “drama”, the remaining schools have been around for a long time, so something is working well.
I am persoanlly a big fan for women’s colleges. they are normally misundstood and misconceptions from parents are the steretypes just like everything else.
the common competitive advantages for women’s colleges are personal attention and individual growth for better confidence and higher motiviation.
it is also critical for the right students to apply women’s colleges. it is not designed for one size fits all and it is promoted for leadership in the professional field.
for example, one women’s college emailed Chinese applicants to test their knowledge about the nature of the women’s college, the feedback showed only less than 5% actually knew they were applying women’s college, I don’t believe the 95% percent applicant deserve the rights to be reviewed for consideration.
Women’s colleges are historical institutions, dating back to the days when only males were permitted entrance into college. Women’s colleges focus on developing academic skills, knowledge, and leadership in women. These institutions teach women to be independent, they empower. When the Supreme Court in the 1950s realized that public male colleges violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution, many women’s colleges decided to go coed. Many women’s colleges remain however, and the famous alums from these colleges are a testament to their worth. Here is the link to view notable alums, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_notable_alumnae_of_women%27s_colleges_in_the_United_States. Just to mention a few notables, Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton and former Secretary of State Madeline Albright attended Wellesley. Meryl Streep graduated from Vassar. Former Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, is an alum of Trinity College which is now coed as Trinity Washington University. I hope you go and view the list, it is solid proof that women’s colleges produce women of strength and ability.
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