More College Knowledge Q&As

Question: As a young, independent woman, I’ve often considered going to a women’s college.  What’s your opinion of single-sex schools?

Answer: Single-sex colleges are dwindling fast, although there is a remnant that would rather fight than switch.

In the late Sixties, the all-male Ivy League institutions went to coeducation over the loud resistance of many alumni.  My personal opinion is that allowing women in was the best move the Ivy League could have made.  The inclusiveness of coeducation has offset much of the exclusive and elitist image of those schools.

For some students, however, a single-sex college may be desirable.  One advantage comes from living at an institution where there is limited exposure to the opposite sex.  Some college students, who are shy and uneasy about being in a mixed social environment, find comfort and security in a same-sex environment.  Absolute segregation is hard to accomplish, however.

An example is the pair of colleges near Philadelphia–Haverford and Bryn Mawr.  Bryn Mawr remains all-women.  Haverford, once all-men, is now into coeducation.  Located near one another, the two student bodies intermingle frequently.  Bryn Mawr women have more than enough opportunity to meet men, due to the regular incursion from Haverford and other nearby schools, Villanova University and Swarthmore College.

The mission of a single-sex college might be different from that of a coeducational institution.  You’ll have to check it out for yourself.  The best way to do that is to visit the school and question students, faculty, and administrators.  Another personal opinion of mine is that it takes a special kind of student to prosper at a single-sex college.  Perhaps it’s the kind of student who is looking for a special identity or one who is seeking strength in unanimity.

If you are considering a same-sex college, do your homework before you enroll.

Be sure to check out all my admissions-related articles and book reviews at College Confidential.