Although there are only four remaining all-men’s colleges in the United States, there are about 60 all-women’s colleges.
Why is this? Well, before the 1950s and 1960s, single-sex colleges and universities were very common in the United States. However, this changed quite a bit because attitudes about men and women were changing, and there wasn’t such a strong sense that women needed to be protected from men. Moreover, with the women’s liberation movement, there were fears that women were being excluded from many fine institutions for men (including Rutgers University, where I went to college, which didn’t become coed until the 1970s).
So why are there still so many women’s colleges? Many young women still prefer going to college in a place where they don’t have to compete with men for personal attention. They enjoy class discussion and a campus atmosphere that feels more “female” oriented. In addition, many enjoy the camaraderie that comes from an all-women’s campus, many of which are quite closely knit.
Here are four great American all-women’s colleges.
1) Agnes Scott College
With less than 1000 students, this tight knit and beautiful campus in Decatur, Georgia defies the stereotype of what you might expect from a Southern women’s school. Yes, you’ll find a few Southern belles here, but this campus is filled with diverse women who are politically engaged and outspoken. It’s close to Atlanta, too, so if students get bored on this fun, but dry, campus, they can hop on the MARTA and go downtown.
2) The College of Saint Catherine
Located in a peaceful residential neighborhood of St. Paul, Minnesota, the Catholic-affiliated college (which is soon to become a university) has about 5,000 students, 3,000 of whom are undergrads. The school’s motto is “educating women to lead and influence,” and on this politically left-leaning campus, students are encouraged to speak their minds and explore ideas.
3) Bryn Mawr College
Located in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, this prestigious and very competitive college has about 1,200 students, with a stunning student faculty ratio of 8:1. The school has an outstanding reputation for challenging academics and an accessible administration, and students can also take classes at nearby Haverford, Swarthmore, and Penn.
4) Smith College
A prestigious, extremely selective school with a traditional New England feel, Smith College is located in Northampton, Massachusetts and is home to about 2,600 students. Arguably the most rigorous and selective (the average GPA of incoming students was over a 3.9) of the nation’s women’s colleges, Smith students come prepared to work hard. For fun, they hang out in local Northampton, where there’s a great music scene and unusually strong town-grown relations.