Julia Durkin: From an All-Girls School to a Coed University

Julia Durkin grew up in Westchester, New York and is currently a freshman at Syracuse University. She attended an all-girls high school and now has a unique perspective on the transition from this environment to a coed university.

Her Campus: Where did you attend high school and what was it like?

Julia Durkin: In high school, I went to the Ursuline School in New Rochelle, New York. Ursuline is an all-girls Catholic school. We had a brother school, Iona Prep, which was all boys. Our class sizes were small and divided into Honors and College Prep, so it was easy to form close-knit friend groups with your classmates. Girls from all different grade levels were close through sports, service, and other activities. Ursuline had a lot of traditions. Alumni were also very involved and sometimes sent their daughters to Ursuline as well.

HC: What is the most difficult thing about transitioning from an all-girls high school to a coed university?

JD: I think the most difficult thing about coming to a coed university is realizing that my social skills have developed differently than most other people. I find myself quieter and less outgoing in a coed classroom than I did at my high school, where I felt like my classes were one big friend group. There is definitely a different social attitude at a coed school. However, I think it is a healthy challenge to be in an environment with different people and it will definitely help me grow.

HC: What did you like about your all girls school? What do you like better at coed university?

JD: At Ursuline I loved the bonds that formed throughout my whole class. There was really a feeling of sisterhood among all Ursuline girls and a tendency to look out for each other wherever we were. In college, I have met other girls from Ursuline schools throughout the country and there is definitely a familiarity and comfort in knowing we come from similar places. At Syracuse, however, I think friendships with boys form more organically, in the classroom, dining hall, etc, whereas in high school, I only saw guy friends at preplanned social events.

HC: Would you consider sending your children to single-gender schools?

JD: I would consider sending my children to single-gender schools if they wanted. I loved my experience at Ursuline and ultimately wouldn’t trade it for another. However, I do see the social benefits of attending a coed school, so there are benefits to both.