Benefits of All-Women's Liberal Arts Colleges & Universities

  • Small Student Body
  • Leadership Skills
  • High Levels of Educational Attainment
  • Access to Men
  • Traditions

Does anyone still attend an all-women's liberal arts college? Although overall enrollment is shrinking, some schools are experiencing a renaissance, particularly the competitive "Seven Sisters." Female students are turning to women-only spaces to develop skills and confidence. It's an unconventional choice, but here are five of the reasons women choose sex-specific small liberal arts colleges.

1. Small Student Body

Co-ed and women's liberal arts colleges feature low enrollment numbers. Students benefit from small class sizes, personal attention from professors and access to unique opportunities. Liberal arts colleges are more likely to offer fully funded research opportunities in the United States, study abroad trips and on-campus organizations. Graduates can count on handcrafted letters of recommendation and lively classroom discussions that are difficult to find at large universities.

2. Leadership Skills

Small-sized women's colleges give female students a chance to develop leadership skills. Removed from the pressure of sounding bossy or shrill in front of male counterparts, students are able to lead undergraduate organizations and classroom projects. According to the U.S. News & World Report, that's why so many graduates of women's colleges go on to prestigious roles. Public figures like Secretary Hillary Clinton, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Secretary Madeleine Albright all graduated from women's liberal arts schools. Many studies have shown that female students are less likely to participate in classroom discussions in co-ed environments. Simply put, female-only classrooms let women speak.

3. High Levels of Advanced Educational Attainment

Many graduates of women's colleges continue their education and become doctors, lawyers or researchers. This may because small liberal arts colleges offer strong academic preparation that creates graduates who can excel in challenging master's or doctoral programs. It could also be that students at female-only colleges develop a love of learning when they're free from the typical college pressures of hook-up or binge drinking culture. Whatever the reasoning, a women's college is a good choice for high school girls confident they want to attend graduate school.

Ranking: 30 Best Liberal Arts Colleges in the West, Ranked by Return on Investment (ROI)

4. Access to Men

Enrolling at a women's college doesn't mean losing access to men. Instead, the opportunities to socialize with men come on women's schedules. Most female-only colleges have close ties to formerly male-only schools. Examples include Barnard College and Columbia University, Bryn Mawr and Haverford College or St. Mary's College and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Many urban women's colleges have unofficial partnerships with public and private universities in the city. These links allow students to take classes at other schools and also let female students socialize with male students in a safe environment. Women can attend an off-campus party in the evening and head back to their women's only campus for academic pursuits.

5. Traditions

In the United States, women's colleges are historic. Many have been around for centuries, and long-standing traditions have been passed from generation to generation. Students sing songs, host tea ceremonies, play with hoops and pass down heirlooms. These practices bring a sense of sisterhood and a connection to the institution's history. They give students a chance to make lifetime friends, relieve the stress of final exams and enjoy their college experience.

These schools aren't for everyone. Potential students must meet academic standards, commit themselves to a female-only environment and be prepared to be challenged. For some students, though, all-women's liberal arts colleges provide the education of a lifetime.