During my recent visit to the Bay area, I had the chance to spend a morning at Mills College, a women’s college located in Oakland, California. I know what some of you might be doing right now. If you’re a boy, you’ll probably stop reading. If you’re a girl, you may be thinking, “I’m not going to start going to an all girls school NOW.” And then you’ll stop reading. But don’t dismiss the idea quite yet. Stick with me for a minute.
I attended a school for girls for a time as a high school student, I’ve taught in single sex schools, and yes, I would probably call myself a feminist. That’s my disclaimer. After exploring Mills and then reading up on other women’s colleges in the US, I am convinced that they offer a unique learning and life opportunity that would be a great fit for some SMUS students.
Historically, the women’s college tradition started with the “Seven Sisters”, the female equivalent of the Ivy League (which was once male dominated), in the early 1900’s when the idea of women attending university was radical in itself. Now these institutions offer twenty-first century students a chance to grow as learners and as leaders in an environment that focuses solely on the aspirations of young women (but no longer to the exclusion of all men!).
Studies have shown that graduates of women’s college typically report being more engaged in their education, both in and out of the classroom, and report higher satisfaction with their college experience. They must take on all the leadership and intellectual opportunities on campus thereby giving them more opportunities to shine in areas that may be traditionally male-dominated. These colleges typically attract students who aren’t as “party” focused, but my tour guide at Mills said that there are plenty of opportunities for that too.
- 30% of females on a Business Week list of rising stars in corporate America are graduates of women’s colleges.
- some women’s colleges have co-ed dorms that are shared with another college.
- many women’s colleges offer cross-registration with other co-ed colleges in the area, allowing students to take courses simultaneously at both schools. (e.g., MIT, U Pennsylvania, and U Cal-Berkeley).
- all have both male and female professors.
- many have co-ed graduate programs (according to US law, a university can exclude based on sex only from undergraduate programs).
- more than 20% of women in the US Congress are graduates of women’s colleges.
Check out this link to an interesting article on the relevance of women’s colleges in today’s world. Give women’s colleges a second thought… it might just be the right fit for you.