As college application season is rolling around, I would like to bring up a new option for all you girls out there who may not have considered this before: women’s colleges. Women’s colleges were first created to give women the same educational opportunities as men back when there were no co-ed institutions of higher learning. Now that we have educational equality, many argue that women’s colleges are no longer relevant. This opinion seems to be popular seeing as only about 2% of female college students in the United States attend a women’s college. I think that the general opposition that many have when it comes to women’s colleges come from negative stereotypes. So in this article, I will be debunking four stereotypes I frequently hear when it comes to women’s colleges:
“Graduates from women’s colleges tend not to succeed when they graduate.”
This is wrong. This is so wrong. This is so wrong that my heart physically hurts whenever I hear someone say this. Women’s colleges tend to attract very ambitious, driven young women who go on have lucrative careers after their college years. Women’s colleges produce a huge number of some of the world’s most successful women today. In fact, while only 2% of female college students attend women’s colleges, over 20% of the women in Congress today went to women’s colleges. Furthermore, women who graduate from women’s colleges tend to break glass ceilings. Nancy Pelosi, the first woman speaker of the house, went to Trinity College. Madeline Albright, the first woman secretary of state, went to Wellesley College. Drew Faust, the first woman president of Harvard University, went to Bryn Mawr College. The list goes on and on.
“Well, I wouldn’t want to be isolated from men for four years of my life.”
This is another very false claim I hear when I tell people that I would be open to attending a women’s college. I think that when people think of women’s colleges, they think of this isolated convent in the middle of nowhere. That is absolutely not the case. Most women’s colleges are part of consortiums. For example, Smith College and Mount Holyoke College are in a consortium with Amherst College, Hampshire College, and UMass Amherst. Scripps College is in a consortium with Harvey Mudd College, Claremont McKenna College, Pitzer College, and Pomona College. Bryn Mawr College is in a consortium with Haverford College. Barnard College is affiliated with Columbia University. There is no isolation! In fact, it is not uncommon to see men in the classroom at women’s colleges.
“Only super rich people go to women’s colleges.”
I don’t even know where this stereotype came from. It makes no sense especially because women’s colleges are actually pretty diverse. Of the top 20 “most ethnically diverse” national liberal arts colleges in the 2015 U.S. News rankings, 25% are women’s colleges. In fact, a 2014 study by UCLA professor Linda Sax compared the demographics of women’s colleges, co-ed liberal arts colleges, Catholic colleges, and public and private universities; Sax found that today’s women’s colleges have the lowest median income, the highest percentage of first-generation students and African American students, and the second-highest percentage of Latino students.
“You would get a better education from a co-ed university.”
This is not necessarily true. According to a 2012 study, women’s college alumnae are actually more satisfied, more confident, and on average feel better prepared for their careers than women who graduated from co-ed institutions. Women’s college graduates are also twice as likely to earn a graduate degree as female graduates of flagship public institutions. Women’s colleges are certainly on par with co-ed institutions, if not better.
College is a pretty significant investment, and it’s important to make sure that you consider every option available to you, because ultimately, it’s your future that you’re investing in. Women’s colleges are phenomenal institutions (I would know, I’m applying to four) that don’t get enough credit. If a woman’s college is not for you, it’s not for you and that’s fine. But making your decisions free of any bias is important, and I hope this article helped more people see women’s colleges in a better light.