Debunking 6 Myths About Women's Colleges

While applying to college senior year of high school, I never considered applying to or attending a women’s college. For me, I had done the all-girls thing before — actually for a while. Thirteen years to be exact; from kindergarten through senior year. I didn’t want to play it “safe,” as I saw it, and continue my education in an all-female environment. 

Also, I had heard the stereotypes which didn’t make the idea of going to a single-sex school any more appealing. However, when applying to transfer, Barnard somehow made its way onto my list and I am so thankful that it did. I can gladly say that the misconceptions I had and the stereotypes surrounding women’s colleges are false. Let’s debunk a few of the most common ones:

  1. 1. Everyone is a woman

    Although they are referred to as “women’s colleges,” these schools have a number of students who do not identify as women. There are many people who identify as gender-fluid, genderqueer, gender non-conforming, and non-binary, as well as transgender students who have transitioned to male during their time at Barnard. Women’s colleges are, in truth, not single-sex as many tend to believe.

  2. 2. We're all boy-crazy

    Because we’re at a women’s college and as a result, are completely devoid of men in our lives, we must lose our minds every time we see one, right? This could not be further from the truth. Just because there aren’t a ton of men around us all the time, does not mean that we’re going to throw ourselves at the first one we see. 

    Also, at Barnard, the situation is completely different. With Columbia right across the street, there are plenty of men on our campus, in our classes, and in our library (taking up all the good seats in Milstein, but I’m not complaining!).

    It’s also worth noting that not everyone who attends a women’s college is attracted to men, so we really aren’t all boy-crazy.

  3. 3. We hate men

    On the flip side, because we chose to attend a women's college, there must be some little part of us, deep down, that has a subconscious hatred for men. Why would we choose to go to such a school if we didn’t feel that way?

    As far as I’m concerned, no one truly hates men. No one here is actively trying to cause their downfall and completely eliminate them from our society. Most of us have fathers, brothers, male friends, and boyfriends, even, so this notion is utterly ridiculous.

  4. 4. There's lots of drama

    Girls, by nature, are dramatic. Every little thing that happens to us is a major crisis. We’re catty, we’re constantly picking fights with one another, and we’re all out to get each other.  But let’s be realistic here for a second; do you really think that I can handle this seemingly Hunger Games-style scenario on top of balancing my workload, my clubs and activities, and my life in general? 

    Most people here do not care to concern themselves with drama like this. People want to get along with one another and form genuine connections. Of course, there are exceptions to this, as we are still in college and not everyone is going to get along with each other. But this is not Gossip Girl! Not everyone is scheming and conniving like Blair Waldorf. I don’t know of anyone marching through campus actively trying to cause problems everywhere they go.

  5. 5. We're all radical feminists

    Women’s colleges must be a breeding ground for radical feminists because of their setting. We must all, inherently, have this goal to dismantle the patriarchy and witness the downfall of men in our lifetime.

    The truth is, some of us are and some of us aren’t. Most people aren’t trying to take this activism to an extreme but we are at a women’s college, so even if we do not necessarily subscribe to women’s rights activism and women’s issues ourselves, we are still aware of them. I can assure you that not everyone is attempting to single-handedly eradicate men from civilization with every move they make here.

  6. 6. We can't be successful in the "real world"

    By attending a single-sex school, we will in some way be unprepared for “real life.” Because we’re receiving an education that is geared towards women, we aren’t learning how to act and work around men, and therefore, if we take on jobs that require us to work with men, we will not be able to be successful. 

    This is probably the misconception that bothers me the most. As I said before, at Barnard, as well as at other women’s colleges, there are plenty of men on campus, in our classes — literally everywhere. Don’t forget that we have male professors and TAs too. We are working with men more often than some believe. 

    So even though we are in a women's college setting, we are not blind to the fact that men exist and that we may, one day, have to work with them. By being at a women’s college, young women are given the tools to succeed and are able to have an incredibly empowering college experience. We’re educated on how to speak our minds and strive for our goals. We’re encouraged to be leaders and are taught how to prevail in more male-dominated fields. In fact, some very distinguished women have attended women’s colleges: Katherine Hepburn, Hillary Clinton, and Barnard’s very own Martha Stewart!

Clearly, many of the myths about women’s colleges are false. Knowing what I know now, I probably wouldn’t have dismissed the idea of going to a women’s college so quickly in high school. If you are at the beginning of your college application process or thinking about transferring, I hope that this helps you realize that women’s colleges are not necessarily what they’re made out to be.