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Women's Colleges

By Mike Pugh

June 03, 2008

When choosing a college, you want to pick the school that fits you best. Size, location and price are important factors to consider. But many female students are considering an additional option: whether to attend a women’s college or university. With about 60 women’s colleges across the country, chances are there’s one that’s right for you.

Benefits of Women’s Colleges

“My experience at a women’s college was great,” says Kelly Righton, a graduate of Saint Mary’s College. “A lot of people talk about how it makes you more assertive and confident – and it’s really true. It’s not like I was lacking in those traits, but at St. Mary’s they really came out.”

Women’s colleges offer excellent academic programs and foster a positive environment for learning. Many students at women’s colleges attest that they are taken more seriously in the classroom and feel more inclined to participate in class discussions. Says Righton, “There were many strong role models within the school. It was just a special environment that fostered learning and positive thinking.”

Some Impressive Statistics

Only two percent of women college students choose to attend a single-gender college. However, graduates of women’s colleges have made some remarkable achievements. These are some statistics from the Women’s College Coalition (http://www.womenscolleges.org/):

Of Business Week’s list of the 50 women who are rising stars in corporate America, 30 percent received their baccalaureate degrees from women’s colleges. 33 percent of the women board members of Fortune 1000 companies are women’s college graduates.

Of all the women members of Congress, more than 20 percent attended women’s colleges. 20 percent of women identified by Black Enterprise Magazine as the 20 most powerful African-American women in corporate America graduated from women’s colleges. Nearly three-quarters of the women’s college graduates are in the work force. Almost half of the graduates in the work force hold traditionally male-dominated jobs at the higher end of the pay scale such as lawyer, physician or manager. Nearly half of the graduates have earned advanced degrees, and 81 percent have continued their education beyond college.

Student Satisfaction

By all accounts, there is a high rate of student satisfaction at women’s colleges. Nine out of 10 women’s college graduates give their colleges high marks for fostering self-confidence. More than three-quarters of women’s college graduates continue their involvement with their alma mater as trustees, mentors, class agents, intern employers, recruiters, etc.

According to 1988 data from the Council for Financial Aid to Education, more women’s college alumnae donate money to their alma mater (39% vs. 28%). The amount donated is larger too ($521 vs. $406).

Who Should Not Attend a Women’s College

It’s difficult to say who is “right” for women’s colleges and who isn’t. Just about everyone can benefit from the supportive atmosphere they provide. In the end, it’s largely a matter of personal preference.

“Women’s colleges are definitely not for everyone,” Righton says. “It comes down to priorities and what’s really important to you.”

Is a Women’s College Right For You?

Only you can decide what college is right for you. Include a women’s college on your college visits. See the campus. Talk to some students. Says Righton, “I would say to strongly consider it. A women’s college can help you grow in ways that a co-ed school can’t. They help you become aware of what it means to be a woman in today’s world.”


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