10 Reasons Why I Love Going to a Women’s College
Less Gender Inequality: Although some classes can be co-ed– what with students from other the other Colleges and male professors–the overall chance of running into the sexist comments you might hear at a coed school is pretty rare. Sexism is dismantled in this environment in part by informed discussions in and outside of the classroom and with an increased awareness of women’s issues. Yes, sexism does exist virtually everywhere, but at an educational institution for women, it is much less likely for students to feel discriminated against for their gender, regardless of whatever gender that may be.
Women Inspire Other Women: From our profs to renowned guest speakers to the peers that we live and study with, inspiring women are everywhere. What with such a long list of notable alumnae, the pressure to excel is often hard to grapple with. However, knowing that so many Smithies before me have gone on to do such cool/awesome/amazing things drives me to work hard toward my goals and take advantage of all the opportunities we are given here. It’s also nice to know that though a lot of other people may feel the same way, we don’t live in an environment that’s teeming with competition and jealousy; if anything, students help motivate and lift each other up, both in and outside of the classroom.
Community: The campus community is nurturing and supportive. The development of strong community bonds throughout every house, department, and extracurricular branch on campus and the overall sense of camaraderie is incomparable to anything you could get at a larger coed school, at least in my experience.
Traditions: Most traditions at women’s colleges differ completely from those of coed schools; although they may enjoy homecoming games and annual frat parties, my friends attending coeds schools will never know the joy of waking up to the sweet sound of the Mountain Day bells, or ever sigh the communal sigh when the week is over and you can finally relax and eat cookies at House Tea.
Small student population: The majority of women’s colleges have less than 3000 students; Smith, being the largest of the Seven Sisters, has an enrollment just under that. The smaller population means that students can enjoy smaller classes with frequent discussion, and allows both professors and students to make mutually significant connections on a more personal level.
Women dominate: Unlike coed schools–or, you know, the world in general–women dominate every academic discipline. When the top students/leaders/movers/shakers are all women, it gives students the opportunity to become leaders in their lives beyond Smith. This experience allows students to feel unconstrained by the social pressures of being in a male-dominated environment, and encourages them to excel in typically male-dominated fields. Students here aren’t forced to face blatant gender inequalities in fields like STEM, because, well, they don’t have to.
Social Justice and Equity: Like most other women’s colleges, here we strive for equality and social justice in all aspects. Issues pertaining to gender equality, racial issues and social justice are regular topics of discussion, both in formal and informal settings. Whether it is by profs, peers, or the President herself, students are given the encouragement, advice, and support they need to succeed in environments that may not be as inclusive or forward-moving as Smith.
Strong alumnae network: Graduates of women’s colleges typically have strong ties to their alma maters; I have yet to experience or know of any coed school with an alumnae network as powerful and supportive as Smith’s. Having a myriad of connections in literally every part of the world gives students the opportunity to connect with past-Smithies who are established in the field they may be considering. In addition, the strong alum system also gives newly grads an encouraging support system and lifelong friends outside of their own graduating class.
You can do you, Boo: Smith in my experience has been an extremely open and inclusive place–especially now that the College accepts transgender applications–and I feel privileged to live in an environment where I have the freedom to really just be/dress/live how I want; yes, I know the beauty of college–be it coed or not–is this supposedly newfound independence. But from what I can see women’s colleges in particular work to create safe spaces so that their students can feel free to be as they are without judgement.
Women for the World: Students at women’s colleges are strongly encouraged to be leaders, and this is true especially here at Smith. The “Women of the World: The Campaign for Smith” explains that as “talented young women are increasingly recognized as the hope of their nations, organizations, and families, Smith College is embarking on a defining initiative: to educate women for the world.” For some this motivation may come from faculty, staff, and the administration, but I personally feel most inspired by the long list of successful Smith alums; from Julia Child to Gloria Steinem and Yolanda King, I feel not only inspired but determined to pursue my academic career, future, and life with as much enthusiasm as my empowering profs, alums, and friends here before me.
*Photos courtesy of the Smith College official and library websites