Co-ed or single sex school?
When I was in high school and looking at colleges I am pretty sure I did not start out thinking about a single sex school. I did not get a lot of direction in regards to what school I should apply to but I did know that I wanted to be in a city. I took a trip to Boston to look at schools and I was hooked on city life. I had an interview at Simmons College, a single sex school, and realized for a variety of reasons that it made sense for me. I had three jobs in high school and I enjoyed those jobs much more than I enjoyed classes. I managed to get by doing very little but I was well aware that I was driven to succeed and financially I was definitely on my own after graduation. Simmons was the perfect ladder to get me to where I wanted to go. I knew that based on the curriculum that I was planning on taking that I would have a job upon graduation. I was right.
The issues around single sex schools are mixed. The competition inside the classroom is certainly different. There is a comfort level when there are only women in the class. I see that same comfort level at the Womens Entrepreneur Festival. All gender issues cease to exist and a comfort level sets in. Yet socially, when you are not in a city with plenty of co-ed schools, it makes the social dynamic tough. I have met plenty of women who grew up in single sex elementary through high school settings and their social radar is not as built in because they did not deal with the social dynamics of being in an educational environment with boys on a daily basis.
We chose a progressive school for our kids when they were young because we believe in group learning as well as being able to break something down and then put it back together in order to understand it vs memorization. To us, that type of education is very similar to the working world in regards to life long learning and working with people. In a single sex school girls do not necessary enter their teenage years sulking to the back of the classroom because they do not want their male counterparts to see how smart they are. There are countless sociology books written on this topic. Is that a good thing or is that a bad thing? Again I think it depends on the kid. Some kids blossom in that environment and they might not have in a co-ed environment while others absolutely hate it.
I got a great education at Simmons College. I had more than a handful of job offers when I graduated. I competed in a very safe environment for four years among women. I always felt comfortable asking a question and pushing the envelope. I had an internship experience for one semester that was educational in a completely different way than sitting in a classroom. I spent one semester abroad that made a huge impact on me where I got to know myself in a way that I am not sure I would have if I didn’t disconnect for a semester. Socially I didn’t love it. I made many friends freshman year but never really connected with them on a level that I wanted to. I have zero relationship with any of the people I met there today. Funny enough the only person I continue to have a relationship with from college is my husband. I stayed in Boston during the summer and rented a room out of his fraternity at MIT. We connected, became fast friends and a year later started began a life long love affair.
If I had to do it all over again I am not sure I would have gone to Simmons. I really did not get any direction from my parents or even a college advisor but more than likely I would have been super happy at a small liberal arts school socially but then again I might not have learned the good business foundation that I did learn at Simmons. Pros and cons are everywhere. I think in the end you pick what seems to to be the right thing for who you are….and of course where you believe that will lead you for the future.