Is a women's college relevant to the educational, social and leadership needs of today's woman? The answer is yes!
As president of the oldest Catholic women's college in the nation, I am constantly witnessing the difference that single-gender education is making in the lives of women on my campus and at the 46 other women's colleges throughout the United States.
And, in my ten years of teaching women's programs, I have found that not only is a women's college relevant; it is a game-changer for the students who choose it over other co-educational institutions -- changing their lives and giving them a voice. I often tell parents and prospective students that although not a women's college graduate myself, after working in both co-ed and single gender mathematics classrooms throughout my career, I have witnessed the difference in my own students and have come to be a huge proponent for women's colleges today.
So, I encourage students looking for colleges to give serious consideration to women's colleges. The benefits to single-gender education are huge, and should be considered for the following five reasons:
Studies show that women are better learners when they are in a single-gender environment.1 A woman is twice as likely to ask questions, speak up and participate more when she is in a class of other female students, which means she learns more because the long-standing barriers for women are lifted. This is especially true in fields where women are under-represented such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Students are more likely to get involved both academically and socially through activities such as student government and other leadership activities at a women's college than they are at a co-educational institution.1 Women's colleges are also strong supporters of diversity issues, and most women find a campus environment that is inclusive and encouraging of diversity.
Women at women's colleges are more likely to graduate in four years, more likely to pursue an advanced degree and aspire higher in their career decisions than their counterparts at co-educational institutions. Over time, these women often earn more than women at co-ed institutions. Women's colleges overall have higher academic achievement standards and more personal attention, allowing students to thrive as well as participate in higher level thinking activities. In general, women's college graduates are confident, articulate a high achiever in the workforce and well prepared for a career change or advancement.
Students at women's colleges build strong, life-long relationships during their undergraduate years.1 A women's college can seem like a big sorority -- with women leading women through rich social activities and honored traditions that stand the test of time, such as Ring Day and Big Sis-Little Sis here at The Woods. Annual Reunions are a highlight for women's college graduates, as alumnae remain closely connected to their alma maters. These relationships provide much more than social value... they provide a network of relationships that facilitate personal and career support and strengthen their desire to help their communities for a lifetime.
Most people believe that choosing a single-gender college will mean that they will never have the chance to see, talk to or interact with students from co-educational experiences, especially men. Not true. Many women's colleges are located near other colleges and universities and have, over decades, forged strong relationships with those institutions where they offer co-educational activities both academically and socially between the students. Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College hosts a number of events that are co-ed. Just because it is a women's college doesn't mean that men aren't on campus... believe me, they are on campus -- often!
1 Women's College Coalition - Hardwick Day Comparative Alumnae Study March 9, 2012. http://www.womenscolleges.org/file/news/2012HardwickDayComparativeAlumnaeStudyAToolkitforUsingtheFindingstoTellYourStory.pdf