Few of the young women you advise will start their college search with a women’s college on their list. And even if you are convinced that one might be a good fit, you know she may resist at first. So your goal should not be to convince her to apply to a women's college – the best advice is simply “When you begin your college search, put one on your list.”
Start where you usually do, with academics.
Does she want small, discussion-based classes? Research experience? A graduate degree? Women’s colleges excel at student centered teaching and have almost twice as many alumnae who receive graduate degrees as women from co-ed public universities. If academic success matters, she should put a women’s college on her list.
Ask her to describe her ideal living environment.
Girls often value a sense of belonging and want to know “Will I make friends? Find people like me? Have a social life?” Women’s colleges are intentional communities that foster life-long friendships. They are also highly effective in helping students relate to people from different backgrounds. And unlike the perception that many high school students have, students at women’s colleges have lots of opportunities for social activities with men and women.
What does she want from extracurricular activities?
If athletics are important, women’s colleges offer a wide variety of team sports, intramural and fitness programs. Student life offers affinity groups for many interests. And if she wants to develop her leadership skills, what could be better than a place where all the leadership positions are held by women!
Ask her to describe the woman she wants to become after college.
If she uses words like well-educated, successful, self-confident, a strong communicator, a leader, then she should know that women’s college alumnae view their colleges as more effective on those measures than women from co-ed institutions. Women’s college alums describe themselves in those terms and their college experience as transformative.
Objections to women’s colleges are often based on misinformation or stereotypes.
Encourage your girls to put one women’s college on her list, and to visit the campus. Current students understand the social concerns and can be a trusted source of information. Alumnae can address the concerns of parents and students when they share their success stories and the value of their college experience in their adult lives. And experiencing campus life during a visit – the classroom, the food, the facilities, the students – is the best possible way for her to know if a women’s college is right for her.