When attending an all-women's college, it's easy to forget that many view such an education as an anomaly. As a peer once asked me in high school, "A women's college? They still have those?" Yes, and we are doing quite well, thanks.
As soon as I leave the bubble of Smith College, I find myself having to explain or clarify various misconceptions that friends from high school -- and even the parents of these friends -- have about what it's really like to attend a school without any boys. Sure, it's annoying to constantly defend my choice or remind them of the unlimited opportunities an all-women's college supplies. And yet, I find myself repeating the same stuff, over and over. So, once and for all, allow me to debunk some popular held myths about life at an all-women's college.
1. If you're not a lesbian, you will undoubtedly become one (probably as soon as you step onto the campus)
"Attending an all women's college, you say? So I take it you're a lesbian then?" If I had a nickel for every time someone brought up my sexuality in reference to my attending an all-women's college, well, mark my words, I'd have a lot of nickels. Apparently there is a strange, compelling desire to investigate if every student attending an all-women's college is either a lesbian or will become one, upon entrance. The short answer is: no. The long answer is: no, you idiot. It doesn't make a difference if it was a poor attempt at humor or rather genuine curiosity: speculating about my sexual orientation is not acceptable, funny, or any of your business. Frankly, it's weird.
2. Everyone is gay!! And they all hate straight people!!
This refers to a delusional belief that a specific group -- in this case, relating to sexual orientation -- can define an entire campus. Add some hostile relations, mix in some robots here and there, and boom: you've got yourself a promising plotline for a twisted sci-fi novel. For all you misguided and clueless individuals out there, brace yourself for some big news: it turns out, oddly enough, that all-women colleges, like any other college campus, boast a remarkably diverse student body. At women's colleges there are gay people, straight people, trans*people, bisexual people, and everything and anything in between. But, get this, SO DOES EVERY OTHER COLLEGE! SO DOES EVERY OTHER PLACE IN THE WORLD! I put it in capital letters so my utter exasperation with this ridiculous misconception would be unmistakable to miss! Now, does that clear things up a bit?
3. It's one big convent
As a college tour guide, you have to answer quite a lot of interesting questions. Most of the time -- okay, all the time -- asked by the parents. A lot of the parents have questions relating to the all-women environment, and rightly so. One mother asked me, "Are boys allowed on campus?" To which I responded, "BOYS? Why, I believe I have heard of such a species!" Just kidding. I told her yes, and I said that because it was the truth. Often, people liken an all women's college to a convent. To which I say: really? Yeesh, the stereotypes us all-women-college students have to deal with! You people MAKE ME SICK! Believe it or not, the menfolk frequently stop by all-women colleges. Some, from neighboring schools, take classes. Others visit their girlfriends or friends or come to events at the school. Sometimes, when we at the nunnery are feeling particularly bold, we'll venture into town where there are -- gasp! -- real, live, BOYS. Ah, so they do exist! Moral of the story: it is, believe it or not, quite possible to meet and befriend those of the opposite sex. And many choose to do so. The end.
4. Something is wrong with you
That fact that I have to defend my choice of a college is not only tiring but also pretty sad. Do I really need to recite the statistics that prove the rewards of attending an all-women's college? Do you really want me to list the impressive alumnae who have all graduated from Smith? Because, believe me darling, I will if that's what the situation calls for. But here's the thing: I shouldn't have to. When you ask me why I chose to attend an all-women's college, I will consequently ask you why you decided to choose a co-ed college. How did you know it was right for you? Weren't you worried about missing out? Do you even, like, have fun? ANSWER ME! That's what I thought: not so confident now, are we? Oh, how the tables turn.
5. You're missing out on the "traditional college experience"
Life at an all-women's college -- just like any other -- is fulfilling, engaging, and fun. Friendships are made, classes are taken, and late night adventures are all too frequent. The experience of attending an all women's college is, of course, not going to be completely the same as that of a co-ed college. Yet doesn't mean one is better or worse than the other. Sure, I don't have boys living on my floor or know what it's like to be a lone female student in a classroom full of guys. But here's the important thing: I'm taking interesting classes, having fun, and pursuing both my academic and personal interests. If that's not a traditional college experience, then I don't know what is.