All the studious ladies: pros and cons of women’s colleges

Barnard College
Barnard College (Facebook)

Though the idea of a women’s college may sound outdated to some, the truth is that can still be beneficial. Colleges that offer single sex education are providing a space where women can witness other women achieving, teaching and advancing. We spoke with several graduates who attended women’s colleges and learned the pros and occasional cons of an all-girls school.

Sarah Besnoff is currently a second-year law student at the University of Pennsylvania, but she earned her Bachelor’s from Barnard College. “Women’s colleges create a space to discuss issues of gender and privilege,” explains Besnoff. “Every class, every professor, every student group encouraged these discussions.” When asked if she felt prepared to enter the co-ed world after graduation she says, “I felt better prepared for that role because I was quicker to recognize inequities and imbalances, and much quicker to challenge them.”

According to Mary Baldwin College alum Amy Power, the single sex experience let her focus on her studies and staved off distractions. Now the President and CEO of Power Public Relations, she says, “[MBC] did give me more of an opportunity to laser focus on my studies during the week, and the weekends were reserved for socializing with the male-only and other co-ed colleges nearby. We certainly didn’t suffer from a lack of social life; but rather had more focus during the week on school.”

Of course, socializing is a crucial part of the college experience and it helps students develop vital skills. According to many graduates, the bond between fellow students at women’s colleges is unlike any other. “There’s a wonderful camaraderie. You know that people have your back and that gives you confidence,” says Sarah Magrino, Principal Strategist at Magrino 360 Marketing.

Confidence is a topic that came up frequently when speaking with women’s college alumni and it’s clear that there is no lack of it. Some might ask if single sex environment can lead to timidity in the workplace. The answer, not surprisingly, is a resounding no. Word on the street is that women’s colleges produce headstrong, often fearless leaders who don’t let gender stand in the way.


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