While some students might cringe at the idea of attending a women’s college, a lot of the preconceived notions about these schools are wrong. Many graduate programs at women’s colleges are actually coeducational—so yes, there will be guys on campus. But women’s colleges offer so many opportunities that aren’t available at other schools, such as strong campus communities and female-dominated math and science courses. Following Women’s History Month, I researched some of the nation’s leading women’s colleges. Here's what I found.
1. Barnard College
Located in New York City, Barnard College offers women a rigorous liberal arts education. Founded by Annie Nathan Meyer in 1889 in response to the male-dominated Columbia University, the College focuses not only on providing a great education but enabling its students to change the world. As the alma mater of Joan Rivers, Zora Neale Hurston, and Lauren Graham, Barnard College proves itself as a college that sets women up for success.
2. Mills College
As the first women’s college in the West, Mills College has made a name for itself through its commitment to creating an inclusive campus and providing access to higher education for all students. Originally a seminary, the school was bought by Susan and Cyrus Mills in 1865 and renamed Mills College. The College devoted itself to providing academic opportunities for women, and this pledge would earn it a series of impressive firsts: it was the first women’s college to offer a Computer Science major, the first and only women’s college to reverse a co-ed decision, and the first women’s college to create a policy for admitting transgender students. Mills College is not only a welcoming campus but a challenging one, as they are mentioned in The Princeton Review’s The Best 384 Colleges.
3. Mount Holyoke College
Mount Holyoke was the first of the Seven Sisters colleges and actively remembers its past. Founded by Mary Lyon in 1837, the College faced many challenges before even opening its doors, including an economic depression and outspoken critics about women’s education. Nevertheless, Lyon persisted, fighting to ensure that the education she’d received as a chemist was available to all women. Today, Mount Holyoke is recognized internationally for its rigorous academics and educating trailblazers like Emily Dickinson while remaining rooted in tradition.
4. Simmons University
Simmons University first opened in 1902 as Simmons College and welcomed 146 students seeking degrees in art, science, and industry. Today, Simmons educates 1,700 women in its undergraduate programs and is continuously looking to the future while keeping students’ needs at the heart of what they do. Labeled as one of one of the top schools in its category and for having a notable nursing school, Simmons continues to reinforce over a century of legacy offering a prestigious and student-oriented education.
5. Smith College
Tied for #11 in the best National Liberal Arts Colleges, Smith College fulfills the wish of its founder Sophia Smith, who inherited a large sum of money later in life and decided to devote it to giving women the same educational opportunities as men. The College proclaims the many benefits that come from attending a women’s college as well as the special type of community that exists there, as seen on their student-run blog, Smith by Smities. Smith is also a notably good place to be for future writers, boasting alumnae such as Margaret Mitchell and Sylvia Plath.
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