Ashley Quigley knows how to have fun—in class and on campus. The 20-year-old knows how to conduct original research and how to present her findings to politicians. She knows how to pull off a successful fundraiser, how to get others people involved in clubs and organizations, and how to get independent artists to donate their time and talent to benefit others.
She also knows that attending a women’s college is one of the best decisions she ever made.
“It presented me the opportunity to become the person I am,” she says. “If I wasn’t afforded all of these opportunities, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Thousands of high school seniors who choose a women’s college each year are just like Ashley, and just like you—young women determined to succeed on their own terms. And like you, students and graduates of women’s colleges are all about being strong leaders who are intellectually curious and have high expectations.
Across the country, more than 40 women’s colleges have a reputation as great places where you can developing your professional talents—in science, sociology, art, business, communications and many other fields—and help you claim your place in the world.
Prepared for Success
In college, Amy Walzer made the Dean’s List, did a 400-hour internship, and excelled outside the classroom, too. She was part of a women’s leadership group on campus and played Division II softball. She helped needy families in Louisiana and Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina and joined in clean-up efforts after a tornado tore through parts of Florida. And when she graduated from Georgian Court University in May 2010.
“I left college not just feeling prepared to do a job, but to do it exceptionally well,” she says.
Attending a women’s college also impacted Amy’s sister, Brynn. During her senior year, the former SGA president helped raise more than $1,000 in high school scholarships for African girls, and she mentored younger college students.
After Brynn earned her bachelor’s degree in 2010, she took a job in Sacramento. Today she works with an outreach team that counsels people suffering from homelessness and substance abuse. Brynn says what she learned while attending a women’s college has been invaluable.
What the Research Says
Graduates of women’s colleges have thousands of success stories to tell. But there’s plenty of research to back them up. According to studies cited by the Women’s College Coalition:
Going to a women’s college increases your chances of going on to earn an advanced degree.
More than 95 percent of women’s college graduates say the financial investment that they put into their education was worth it. At big, public universities, 83 percent of students said spending the money was worth it.
Women’s college graduates are more likely to learn what it takes to solve problems and make effective decisions. They think critically and creatively.
Women’s colleges thrive in helping students work in teams; they also are successful at getting young women to relate to people of different races, religions and economic backgrounds.
Learning and Leading
Why, exactly, are women’s colleges a great fit? There isn’t just one reason.
“It’s important for women to be able to find their voice, and attending a women’s college allowed me to do that,”
– says Autumn Grady, who earned a B.S. in physics in 2008 and finished her master’s degree in biology in 2010.
As a student, Autumn worked as a laboratory assistant, and helped other undergraduates with experiments and lab assignments. Even after graduation, she’s still doing research—her most recent project involves a daisy specimen that she found on a roadside in New Jersey last year. She believes the flower could be directly connected to Italians immigrants who came to this country more than 100 years ago.
Also, students at women’s colleges are very vocal. They raise questions, take on tough problems, and work together to find solutions. These are the same skills used by strong leaders like Elaine Chao, Hillary Clinton, groundbreaking environmentalist Rachel Carson, and Nobel Prize-winning writer Pearl S. Buck.
At women’s colleges, you will find:
- More mentors and faculty role models who are women.
- Lots of opportunities to be involved as a student leader.
- A higher percentage of young women studying science, technology, engineering and math.
- Greater focus on political, historical and community awareness.
Women’s colleges have lots to offer, and determining if one is right means doing your homework. Go online to find links to women’s schools around the country.
Ask your guidance counselor for suggestions, or ask around to see if some of the outstanding leaders in your community graduated from women’s colleges.
If there are specific schools that interest you check their Web sites, call them up, and connect with recruiters, students, and alumni. They’ll be happy to tell their story.