Women’s College Alumnae Unite!December 05, 2011
I am a fiercely loyal women’s college alumna. I wear my Mount Holyoke College ring with pride and cannot be convinced that any school was better than my own. In fact, I find it a welcome challenge when someone asks me why I chose a women’s college, and I quickly launch into my elegantly crafted response about women’s-only higher education and the benefits I’ve experienced since graduation.
However, when confronted with a women’s college graduate from another school, I find that we have completely different reactions to each other. There is an undeniable competition among women’s colleges, especially the Seven Sisters. For four years, I relished this competition and readily engaged in discussing the reasons why my institution was superior. I suppose I always believed that this alleged animosity would fade in time, but since graduation I’ve been confronted by fellow women’s college graduates who have scoffed at my choice of Mount Holyoke! While I am certainly guilty of still thinking my school is the best, I was definitely taken aback by these comments.
As I’ve moved on from college life, I find myself wondering why this competition exists and, more importantly, how we can all use our loyalty for the greater advancement of women.
Women’s colleges prepare us to take on the world with no reservations, and they train some of the top women in leadership. Research shows that levels of self-confidence in women’s college graduates are much higher than for their coed counterparts, and many women leaders — including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao — graduated from women’s colleges.
At AAUW, our Leadership Programs attempt to provide these same resources to women at all different types of colleges and universities. AAUW strives to maintain a relationship with intellectual women throughout their lives, long after they’re handed their diplomas. Being at an organization like AAUW has shown me how important it is for all women to have the advantages that I took for granted at times. I can now see how Wellesley, Smith, and Bryn Mawr women all have the same power that I have. I’ve gained a respect for their choices, an appreciation for the women they’ve become, and a desire to use our combined power to inspire women all over the country.
Our individual institutions were personal choices and hold special places in our hearts, but the decisions we made to attend women’s colleges makes us sisters in a way. Single-sex education is not for everyone, but those of us who chose to immerse ourselves in this unique experience share a bond that co-eds can’t compete with.
This post was written by AAUW College and University Relationships Intern Meredith Spencer-Blaetz.