Interaction with boys at all-girl schools

My DD is considering applying to some all-girl schools, but she is somewhat reluctant because she wants to have some exposure to friendships with boys.

Back in “the old days” when I went to an all-girl school, boys were bussed in occasionally for a dance here or there, but honestly a random few hours together in an overdecorated cafeteria with a DJ did not readily develop any kind of friendship for anyone that I can recall.

Online I saw that MPS and Avon Old Farms do theater productions and other events together, and are in close proximity.

I’d love to hear from students or parents with experience at girl schools – are there opportunities ever to get to know any boys? Any girl schools that have an unofficial “brother school?”

Also, would love to hear about any schools where this did not work well. I want to go into this idea of applying to girls schools with open eyes.

Westover’s unofficial brother school is Trinity Pawling School. It’s about an hour away, just over the NY line. They do a lot of theater things together and, in the past, have coordinated some spring break volunteer opportunities together, too. Westover also has “dances” (or whatever they call them these days), with Salisbury School as well as Avon Old Farms. My DD didn’t go to any of them, but was planning on it when COVID started. I’m not sure how many girls make close friends with these boys, but they had the opportunity to do things every few weekends (football games, dances, etc.). I’ll be honest… my daughter was worried about the “no boy” aspect of things, but now really loves the fact that they are not around. She is also a day student with a twin brother, so that could have something to do with it, too. :slight_smile:

My daughter also attended Westover. She initially resisted the idea of any all-girls schools, because most of her friends had always been boys, and in middle school, she had actually experienced being bullied by girls. We looked at a number of all-girls and coed schools. She liked Westover best, and she maintained close friendships with boys at home… now she always says that she thinks an all-girls school was a great choice for her. She didn’t really enjoy the few coed dances she attended at Westover, though… she referred to them as “grindfests” and said they were not at all conducive to establishing friendships. She is now at a college that is techy and has loads of friends of all kinds (and a big shout out to Westover for preparing her so well for a rigorous STEM college!). Honestly, she was thrilled to be able to just be herself at Westover, with no boys around, not to have to worry about having a bad hair day, etc. She says she would choose an all-girls school again in a heartbeat (though she had ZERO interest in including a women’s college on her list, LOL). The benefits of a single-sex education definitely outweighed the drawbacks, in her experience.

Our experience refers to PDS. DD went to from co-ed public elementary to a private all girls middle (5th - 8th) and would not even consider all-girls high school after her experience. She found all-girl environment very cliquey and lots of gossiping etc. Her school did have a brother school.

FYI In elem all DD’s best friends were boys and she is definitely not ‘girlie girlie’.

Waaaaaay back in the day I also left all-girls for co-ed and definitely preferred co-ed.
There are pros and cons of both but IMHO (and based on mine and DDs experience) I do feel that all-girls tend to have more cliques and girls with bitchy behavior.

And that’s why it’s important to try to learn as much about the culture of the school community as you can… every school is different, and everyone experiences it differently. During our school search, my kid did an overnight visit at another all-girls school, one often referred to as “elite” and with a rich and storied history. On the surface, the place was very impressive. I had initially hoped she would end up there. She came home from that visit absolutely horrified by the dynamics and behaviors she had witnessed in the dining hall and the dorms.

She had spent a chunk of her childhood on the campus of a coed BS; we lived in a boys’ dorm so she had 50 ‘big brothers’, and that was a really great experience for her. But I did notice the dynamics became quite different between the female students whenever there were boys around! Bottom line, I guess, is that no school is perfect, every community is different, and each kid will experience it in their own unique way. I will say this, though: boys, no boys, whatever: the leadership of the school sets the tone for the community and how the kids relate to one another and treat one another. When looking at and evaluating schools for fit, I encourage you to pay attention to things the Head of School has said or written. That’s often a good way to gain insight into the community vibe.