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What Is Important to Know About Women's Colleges Before Applying?

Women’s colleges are unique institutions with an important history. Here’s an expert rundown if you’re considering applying to any of them.

Ciera GrahamDr. Ciera Graham
K–12 Manager
City of Seattle
While students of this generation have a plethora of higher education options, women’s colleges offer a unique experience that differs from traditional co-ed schools. Education has historically excluded women and people of color from college curricula and from achieving higher positions in teaching and administration. Before the 19th century, women were excluded from higher education based on the premise that women didn’t need a college degree to pursue traditional servant roles like homemaker and mother. Women’s educational options and civil rights expanded only after the 19th century, with many single-sex colleges exclusively for men becoming coeducational—accepting both men and women—and several women’s-only colleges being established and developed. In 1836, Wesleyan College became the first women’s college in the world; it now educates more than 3,000 students every year. Today, there are fewer than 50 women’s colleges in the United States, and many of them are liberal arts colleges.

For students looking to pursue a Women’s or Gender Studies degree—or those who would like more exposure to women’s literature and exceptional female faculty members leading their classes—a women’s college could be a great choice. Women’s colleges also have higher graduation rates, which is likely attributed to a smaller, more intimate learning environment. These colleges have smaller student populations, allowing students to make stronger connections to other students, staff, and faculty. Having access to mentors has shown to play a critical role in one’s academic and personal success in college.

If you’re interested in exploring these colleges, check out our list of all the women’s colleges in the United States.

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