right arrow
Informational Message Stay on top of the information you need to navigate the admissions process amid the COVID-19 pandemic. We've got articles, videos and forum discussions that provide answers to all of your test prep, admissions and college search questions.   Visit our COVID-19 resource page.

Introducing Kai!
Your College Confidential guide bot.


Kai can provide tips and support as you research and apply to colleges, and explore majors and careers.





Chat with Kai
here, 24/7!


or Skip Forever

Finding the right college for your unique situation can be challenging. Hear from other students who shared their admissions story. Download our FREE Student Voices - vol. 1, Student Voices - vol. 2, Student Voices - vol. 3, and Student Voices - vol. 4 eBooks NOW!
PARENTS4PARENTS: With the deadlines for ED/EA coming up shortly, thumper1 and happymomof1 will be answering questions and sharing their tips on how to build your college list. ASK THEM ANYTHING!
Make sure to check out our October Checklist for HS Seniors. Consult these quick resources to get you started on the process this month.

How to Talk to Parents about Women's Colleges?

CatLover20CatLover20 59 replies12 threads Junior Member
Hi, I'm a rising senior interested in multiple women's colleges (Smith, Mount Holyoke, Bryn Mawr, and Simmons) because I really believe in their message and supportive environment as well as great programs. However, both of my (very conservative) parents grew up working class and do not see the value in attending a women's college (they says it's "not our socioeconomics" and "unnecessary drama"). I have good stats, great ecs, worked all four years, and have put in an insane amount of work over the past few years to make myself the best "me" possible. How do I talk to them about women's colleges? Is there any hope? Do you agree with them, is it simply not my socioeconomics?

I do not believe I would be posting this if a part of myself didn't believe it. If you have a child at a women's college, please share with me: is it really just a rich kid thing? Would I not do well if I do not come from that background? I've never been ashamed of not being incredibly wealthy. I've never been ashamed that my parents didn't go to a "strong" university. Would I feel like an outcast for this? If you attend a women's college: did your parents always support the decision? Did they encourage you to look at women's colleges?
20 replies
· Reply · Share

Replies to: How to Talk to Parents about Women's Colleges?

  • intparentintparent 36292 replies644 threads Senior Member
    edited July 2018
    MHC is a bit (slightly) more conservative. Have you run the net price calculators? Money might talk, and you might get decent need based aid.
    edited July 2018
    · Reply · Share
  • CatLover20CatLover20 59 replies12 threads Junior Member
    Also, if you are a former recipient/finalist for the Kotzen, could you please include your stats? If you applied but were not offered an interview, I would also like to hear. I have no idea what they are looking for for it because the requirements are rather low for a full ride and the essay is pretty standard. My immediate thought was "oh, these go to well connected students" but I could very well be wrong.
    · Reply · Share
  • CatLover20CatLover20 59 replies12 threads Junior Member
    @intparent Yes, they don't have a problem with the money (except for Bryn Mawr, which came in about 10k higher than Smith and MHC but the price alone is not a problem) as much as the mentality. They do not want me to be bullied or feel out of place because I am not from these highly educated legacy families. My parents and I both value diversity of thought and they very much think LACs in general have more hive mentalities (do not get it confused though-- my parents and I are on complete opposite sides of the political spectrum :)) )
    · Reply · Share
  • MADadMADad 2107 replies82 threads Senior Member
    D graduated from MHC a few years ago. We are firmly in the middle of middle class. We are far from wealthy. Yet she thrived at Mt. Holyoke and became part of a solid core of very close friends. Are there some obscenely wealthy students there? Sure, I am told that they tend to associate with each other and couldn't be bothered with the "great unwashed", for lack of a better word.
    · Reply · Share
  • intparentintparent 36292 replies644 threads Senior Member
    Why not push for MHC, which is less expensive? (Given what you’ve said, I doubt you can sell them on Smith). Ask if you can apply and visit with them if you get in (I’m assuming they haven’t visited?). Often going to the MHC campus sells parents and students.
    · Reply · Share
  • CaMom13CaMom13 2392 replies15 threads Senior Member
    @CatLover20 - I read your thread on the Bryn Mawr node as well but figured this was a better thread on which to respond.

    First off - breathe. :) This has to be really hard. Second - take a step back and move away from the foregone conclusion that a women's college is the only place you need to be. It may be the best fit, it may not. You need to focus on outlining clearly what a small college offers you and what you want to accomplish there; that's what will sell your parents on a school, if they truly think you know what you want and you've found it.

    To answer your concern - I don't think you'd be an outcast because of socio-economic status at a small LAC, women's or co-ed. You're not the first in your family to go to school, your parents apparently are comfortable enough to send you to a good school and they support you in pursuing academic excellence. You won't be an outlier in any way.

    To answer your question, I would say my approach would be to broaden your list to include both co-ed and women's schools but keep your priorities clear - from what I hear you saying you want a school that supports you in pursuing academic excellence, you want a small, intimate, nurturing environment where women's rights and needs are supported. You can find many small LACs that admit men that fit that bill. Mix 'em in with the women's colleges. Now go to your parents with this larger list and explain your priorities - don't defend one school or another, get them to buy into the basic idea that you really want a small, high quality LAC. Build your case for why this is what's best for you. Once you've gotten agreement on that basic premise, then see if you can't get them to visit Haverford, Swarthmore and Bryn Mawr on the same day (they are right next to each other). I think you will be able to demonstrate that the elitism of the school environment of one is not substantially different between the women's school and the co-ed schools.

    I'm not suggesting you give up your goal of attending a women's college, I'm saying give a little so can get your parents on board - hopefully they'll at least let you apply to both co-ed and women's schools that fit you. Then apply! You never know where you'll get in. And if you spend more time and effort on your essays for the women's colleges because you like them the best - well, that's natural. Once you've gotten in to hopefully >1 great fit colleges, see if your parents aren't more accustomed to the idea of sending you to your top choice school. Just make sure all of the schools on your list (including the safeties) actually feel like really good fits given your priorities. I hope this helps!
    · Reply · Share
  • MassmommMassmomm 4274 replies85 threads Senior Member
    @CatLover20 Women's colleges are not that different from other LACs. You will find a wide variety of students, from conservative to liberal, rich to poor, from many different backgrounds. It is absolutely not true that they are just for wealthy people or those from upper class backgrounds.

    I grew up in a middle class family and went to Mount Holyoke many years ago. My daughter graduated from Wellesley last year. She had plenty of friends from every background. One had grown up dirt poor, lived in a trailer, and was there on a full scholarship. I don't know how she felt inside, but on the outside, she seemed to blend in just fine with her group of friends. You will find peers at a women's college, no matter what your background. It is worth noting that the majority of students need some kind of financial aid (loans, scholarships, grants) to attend, so that should tell you something.

    As far as political leanings go, well, it's no secret that most college campuses are left-leaning, but this doesn't mean you have to be. Before you apply, find out how active the College Republicans are at the schools you are interested in. This should give you a sense of whether conservative views are respected.

    My daughter is a Democrat, but she's also a devout Catholic Christian who was very open about her faith while on campus. She started a prayer group, reached out to the leader of a Jewish group in support of Israel, etc. She said she never felt disrespected, just disagreed with, and that is healthy.
    · Reply · Share
  • CatLover20CatLover20 59 replies12 threads Junior Member
    @Massmomm Thank you so much for your help! I think women's colleges and LACs do get a bad rep because historically they were so expensive. I wanted to clarify that my parents conservative views and views towards women's colleges and LACs do not reflect my own and we are quite opposite in our political leanings.
    · Reply · Share
  • CatLover20CatLover20 59 replies12 threads Junior Member
    @Massmomm However, you did highlight an issue I have been trying to address. A majority of the people I see on these forums are interested in a women's college because their parent went to one or their parents are pushing for them because they had a positive experience. How do I try to sell parents who do not have this positive view and prior experience?
    · Reply · Share
  • PetraMCPetraMC 1024 replies8 threads Senior Member
    A few women's colleges offer strong merit aid if your stats are good, sometimes as much as half off tuition. That might be a selling point for them.

    I think your parents are thinking of the atmosphere of women's colleges in the distant past. They aren't like that at all now. I don't consider women's colleges to be any more "rich kid" than any other private college or university, perhaps a little bit less so than average, honestly. I'm not sure how to address the "unnecessary drama" comment. That seems pretty sexist, actually.

    I agree with the comment above that said you should broaden your search to include a few similar, but co-ed LACs. Let them see you considering all the options and making a decision based on which school you truly like the best (and that likes you, too.)
    · Reply · Share
  • shawnspencershawnspencer 3121 replies12 threads Senior Member
    Have you tried visiting a women's college for a tour? It might be easier to convince them by hearing it from the school itself. Also a good possible compromise could be Banard, a women's college which is part of Colombia and shows up as a Colombia degree but with the benefits of a woman's college. Or a college that is part of the five college consortium. There are definitely anecdotal experience and people's stories about women's colleges having a positive impact on their life that you could point them to.
    · Reply · Share
  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 6892 replies10 threads Senior Member
    At any school, there will be kids from a mix of economic backgrounds, and my guess is that the distribution will be roughly the same. At a women's college, 100% will be women vs. roughly half. By my calculations, there should be roughly twice as many women who might click with you.

    I agree that adding in some, perhaps Vassar, that are coed, could go some of the distance in showing your parents you are open to that. But imo, if you like women 's colleges, they can be a great option, and they are often more affordable.
    · Reply · Share
  • Sue22Sue22 6928 replies121 threads Super Moderator
    It sounds like your parents have an outdated idea of what women's colleges are like. They are no longer (if they ever were) the province of women in pearls and sweater sets. Do you live in Massachusetts? If so, you might want to point out that Wellesley has a greater percentage of Pell recipients than UMass Amherst and Barnard and Smith have the exact same percentage as UMA. Mt. Holyoke is only a few percentage points behind.
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2017/10/23/pell-grant-shares-at-top-ranked-colleges-a-sortable-chart/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.841db3ac9ca1

    You may also want to dig into employment statistics for the schools you’d like to attend and compare them with those of the schools they would choose for you. If you can show them that a women’s college makes financial and career sense it might sway them.
    · Reply · Share
  • MassmommMassmomm 4274 replies85 threads Senior Member
    It might also help to get a copy of one of the college ranking reports to show that the perceived quality of women's colleges is on a par with that of co-ed schools. I'm not a believer in using rankings to determine the best school, but in this case, using them to show that women's colleges aren't that different from other LACs may help. Really, the main difference is that women's colleges are all women.

    I don't know if it's possible to change deep-seated ideas, though. If your parents believe, however wrongly, that sending you to a women's college might "give you airs above your station" or that all women's colleges are for hairy-armpit Marxists or that they are populated by snooty rich girls who will mistreat you, I'm not sure there's anything that can be done to change their minds. Sometimes people like to hold onto their ideas because they feel secure.

    Try to show them that their ideas are out of date, but you should also be looking at other LACs that will give you the feel of a women's college. Skidmore, Conn. College, Wesleyan and schools like that might also be very good for you.
    · Reply · Share
  • twobugstwobugs 94 replies0 threads Junior Member
    My daughter is a student at Smith. We are firmly middle class. Our children went to public schools, and while my husband and I are both college graduates, neither of us attended an "elite" school. Smith daughter reports that while there are plenty of students there who come from families with plenty of money and/or went to private schools, she has never felt out of place among them. She has classmates from all backgrounds and with a wide variety of interests. She has found Smith to be a very welcoming and very empowering place, and she absolutely loves it. I suspect the same could be said for Mount Holyoke, Wellesley, Simmons, and others.
    · Reply · Share
  • Bromfield2Bromfield2 4063 replies38 threads Senior Member
    My daughter is a Bryn Mawr grad and she had friends from a wide range of socio-economic groups. BMC has a very accepting environment—women aren’t judged by their family status. There are students from wealthy families, but also students who come from middle class and working class families. My daughter often said everyone at BMC finds her “people.”
    If you look at the stats on women’s colleges you will see women’s colleges are on the cutting edge when it comes to ethnic and socio-economic diversity. Maybe presenting information like this will persuade your parents that their views are outdated. Do your research.
    · Reply · Share
  • verucaveruca 1305 replies91 threads Senior Member
    My daughters college is super diverse as to race, religion, nationality and socio economics. If you parents are conservative they might appreciate that womens colleges are not usually on the "top party schools " lists.
    · Reply · Share
  • ConsolationConsolation 22898 replies184 threads Senior Member
    edited August 2018
    The idea that there is a lot of "drama" at a women's college is incredibly sexist and more to the point completely wrong. The type of girl that is into "drama" with other women is highly unlikely to go to Wellesley, for example. Most women who go to women's colleges like and respect other women.

    There are going to be rich kids at every school, especially elite private schools, whether LACs, universities, coed, or not. But those are also the schools with deep pockets that give a lot of need-based financial aid. There's a lot of financial--and other--diversity at top women's colleges.

    I'm curious: could you give a few examples of schools your parents currently approve of for you?

    edited August 2018
    · Reply · Share
  • AussiemomAussiemom 130 replies19 threads Junior Member
    Here's our experience.When exploring colleges, I talked to my daughter about the value of a consortium because there are the small class sizes and community but the opportunity to expand and attend nearby colleges as well. She attended a very small Christian high school so she valued having smaller classes to increase discussion. She flew up to visit family and the plan was to visit Swarthmore and Haverford. She came back from her trip excited about Bryn Mawr. A women's college wasn't even on my radar as something in which she'd be interested. She said she "knew" when she walked on that campus that it felt right.

    Although like a previous poster said, many campuses are left-leaning. I just advised her find a local church which would also offer an extended support network. One more thing, be proud of who you are (not saying you are not) and if you decide to interview then embrace your upbringing and use that as a strength. When my daughter interviewed, she explained that that she offer diverse opinions based on growing up in a different area of country and religion to facilitate deeper discussion. Since many small LACs are building a class, they want people from different backgrounds, socio-economic status, religion and majors etc. to enrich the students to explore various viewpoints in discussion.


    · Reply · Share
  • dc20016dc20016 107 replies0 threads Junior Member
    Mount Holyoke is a very inclusive and diverse campus with students from all over the world. All economic backgrounds are represented and welcome.
    · Reply · Share
This discussion has been closed.

Recent Activity