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Women's Colleges-- what are the pros & cons?

AoifeCaoimheAoifeCaoimhe 0 replies2 threads New Member
I'm going into my senior year of high school, and when looking into liberal arts colleges I've come across a lot of women's colleges. Up until now, I'd never considered going to one, or even really heard of it, so I'm wondering how it differs from other college experiences. Somewhere like, say, Wellesley, checks a lot of boxes for me, but I'm worried I'd be missing out on experiences available at coed colleges. Can someone who's more familiar help me out?
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Replies to: Women's Colleges-- what are the pros & cons?

  • odannyboySFodannyboySF 443 replies12 threads Member
    So the biggest prototypical college experience you'd probably miss out on (although Bryn Mawr has some), is living in a co-ed dorm. You'll have fewer men in classes, certainly. But other experiences (parties, etc.) can all be found. None of the women's colleges are really known as "party schools" but most of them have connections to other schools that are (e.g. Smith with Amherst and U Mass).
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  • MassmommMassmomm 4273 replies85 threads Senior Member
    If you go to Scripps, the other members of the consortium are so close you will definitely have classes with men in them.
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  • DustyfeathersDustyfeathers 3705 replies85 threads Senior Member
    edited August 2018
    Many of the women's colleges share classes with men, because they are in some sort of consortium. Scripps is one. Bryn Mawr is another. Mt. Holyoke and Smith are in yet another. Simmons is in Boston and is in a consortium there. Mills you can cross register with Berkeley and other schools. Barnard is one of Columbia's colleges, so men there.

    Agnes Scottt, Wellseley and Hollins, and Sweet Briar have more classes of women only, I think. There are several other women's colleges. There is a web site with info on them all, if you google for it.

    At most women's colleges men can stay the night in the dorms. No questions asked. That's true at Mt. Holyoke, Smith, Bryn mawr and I believe several others. Consortium schools are either so close that you can walk to the other colleges (Scripps and Barnard) or free transportation is offered to the other colleges (Mt. H, Smith, Bryn Mawr)

    Women's campuses have different cultures from each other. They are not the same, although they tend to share the common experience of being a woman, however you may define that. I think of it as "empowering" women, but others may differ in that opinion and I hesitate to define it too strongly as different women attend for different reasons. There are some women's schools in the midwest that are more religious, for example and maybe more conservative, and may not fall into any easy generalization.

    As an historical note, you should probably be aware of the term "Seven Sisters" (Smith, mt. H, Wellesley, Vassar (now coed), Radcliff (now part of Harvard), Bryn Mawr, and Barnard). They were some of the earliest colleges for women started at a time when women couldn't attend college. That may be where the "empowering women" part of their efforts come from. I believe Mt. H was the first, but check that out before quoting me. Women who attend one of those schools tend to feel a larger sisterhood with women who attend any of the other schools. But attending any women's college tends to bring a sense of shared experience with others who have chosen similarly. Also it means a larger network than any single college might imply. If you're attending a women's school with 1300 students, it may sound too small, but you're really getting the entire consortium of schools to attend, plus the entire network potentially of the other women's colleges for networking throughout your career. This in addition to your excellent education. The Seven Sisters have "brother" schools: Vassar's is Yale and almost got eaten up by Yale, but went coed instead; Radcliff's was Harvard until it got eaten up; Wellesley I think is MIT and Harvard; Bryn Mawr is UPenn, etc.

    In general they offer top educations and those educations are reserved for women. All schools that I'm aware of also offer gorgeous campuses that vary in architectural style, but are pretty breathtaking. So there's that.
    edited August 2018
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  • figureskater2figureskater2 45 replies4 threads Junior Member
    In terms of academic environment, I found women's colleges to be not that much different from my coed educational experience (both in high school and at an intensive language program). However, socially, I think is completely different. Even though Smith is in the 5-College Consortium, I never really saw that many guys when I was a student there. Sure, you may see them walking around town or occasionally on campus, but if you don't know them, you most likely will not interact with them. I am not sure how it is with Wellesley, but at Smith I was too busy with my coursework and extracurriculars to get off campus. As a result, I didn't interact with men for almost an entire year. However, I did know of some people who got off campus every weekend to see their guy friends. If you want to meet guys at a women's college, you have to make it a priority. Also, I think if you desire a friendship with a guy over a relationship or hookup, it can be harder to meet them. Most people meet guys through other clubs at consortium schools, but it you want the kind of friendship where you can study together, go to on campus events together, then go to the dining hall, that will be nearly impossible to find. Usually, you will only see your guy friends on the weekends. Also, each women's college has its own different vibe, so definitely reach out to students and ask their opinions. Think about whether a women's college is something you want both socially and academically.
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