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Is a Women's College Right for Your Daughter? (page 2)

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Updated on Aug 13, 2009

According to the study, students at women’s colleges also show higher gains in general education. A single-sex school, then, may be fitting for your daughter if she seeks a strong program in math, biology, or computer science, but also a strong liberal arts curriculum. “ In comparing campuses, remember that women's colleges have more in common with small liberal arts colleges than large universities,” says Patrick Sweeney, an adjunct professor of history and government in Houston, Texas. If your daughter is attracted to small, private, coed liberal arts colleges like Occidental College – where President Obama attended before transferring to Columbia University – she may find a women’s college to her liking.

Although women’s colleges offer unique advantages, they aren’t without shortcomings. Not all females at women’s colleges have engaging and positive experiences, the study asserts, so it’s important to carefully take your daughter’s personality and specific needs and interests into account. Here are a few things to consider when making this important decision:

  • Create a master list. Compiling separate lists of coed and all-female schools is helpful in the beginning, but when your daughter narrows down her favorite colleges, she should compare schools by looking at the institutions as a whole and use the same criteria for each, whether single-sex or coed.
  • Observe current students: How do the college’s students compare to the kind of woman your daughter would like to be? “Take a look at the women who go there now,” suggests Steve Peha, president of Teaching That Makes Sense, an online resource for teachers. “If you like who they are, you'll probably like who your daughter will become.”
  • Prepare questions for an admission representative:
  1. What activities and events common at coed schools are not offered at this women’s college?
  2. How do your current students describe their social lives?
  3. Aside from sports or student government, what extracurricular activities and clubs are available to your students?
  4. What types of jobs do your students undertake after graduation?
  • Ask these questions honestly:
  1. Am I attracted to a large university or a smaller college?
  2. How important to me is classroom and campus interaction with males?
  3. Am I interested in women’s issues? (Many women’s colleges require students to take credits in women’s or gender studies.)
  4. Do I envision myself collaborating often with other females in and out of the classroom?  
  • Find the right fit, whether all-female or coed: “Focus on finding the college that will be the best fit,” says Modlin. “If the fit is right, the student should find herself challenged, inspired, motivated and will develop the skills and confidence to be successful as she finds her place in the world.”

There are dozens of well-respected women’s colleges across the country known for rigorous academic programs, diverse student populations, and unique offerings. If your teen is interested in such an institution, be certain to use this guide to jumpstart her search.

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