The Value of Women's Colleges
Meredith College has been educating women for more than a century. Current research shows that women’s colleges offer unique benefits surpassing those reaped by female graduates of both flagship public institutions and coeducational liberal arts colleges. Research suggests that:
- Women’s colleges do a better job of preparing women to be effective leaders and communicators;
- Alumnae of women’s colleges develop stronger critical thinking, presentation and writing skills;
- Women’s college alumnae benefited from things like small classes, personal interaction with faculty, and were most likely to graduate in four years or less;
- Women’s college alumnae felt better prepared for their first jobs as well as career advancement and were more likely than any other alumnae to complete a graduate degree.
This research suggests that there really is something distinctive happening for women at single-sex institutions. And although the Women’s College Coalition study confirms data from other surveys, it’s particularly meaningful because it distinguishes alumnae of women’s colleges from those who attended co-educational liberal arts schools.
Graduates of women’s colleges reported more in-class experience with making presentations and more opportunities to develop leadership skills. They also rated their colleges as most effective in helping them learn to relate to people of different backgrounds, a critical skill for leaders in today’s world.
Women’s colleges received higher ratings than liberal arts colleges and flagship public universities in helping students learn to write and speak effectively, think analytically and learn new skills. Women’s colleges were also credited with helping students learn to work effectively as part of a team.
Though many schools offer numerous benefits to their students, an equally critical issue is access to those benefits. Women’s college alumnae were more likely than others to say they benefited from interactions with faculty, from good academic facilities and equipment, and to have been involved in academic clubs and activities. They were also most likely to graduate in four years.
Having a positive college experience is only half the battle. Women’s college alumnae gave their schools a higher effectiveness rating than did the alumnae of all other schools for helping them to be prepared for their first jobs. They also felt that their schools prepared them well for career changes and advancement.
Women’s college grads were also far more likely to have pursued graduate study; 53% of women’s college alumnae had completed graduate degrees, versus 38% of liberal arts college alumnae and 28% of flagship public universities’ alumnae.
The accomplishments of Meredith College students, faculty and staff confirm the findings from the Women’s College Coalition study. Our students are exceptional leaders and communicators who win regional and national awards and our students benefit by learning from our extraordinary faculty. At Meredith, our entire campus community is committed to excellence, in order to provide the best education possible for our students.
The Women’s College Coalition commissioned Hardwick-Day, a consulting firm that does research related to higher education, to conduct a survey of alumnae from classes of 1970–1997. They compared the responses of women’s college alumnae with alumnae of public and private colleges and universities.
The survey focused on key factors that education researchers have identified as critical to both an effective undergraduate education and greater student satisfaction. Those factors include:
- Frequent, extensive formal and informal interaction between faculty and students
- A strong community and peer interactions both inside and outside the classroom
- A challenging, active classroom environment
- Participation in intensive learning experiences like international study, internships, faculty-directed research and independent study
- Involvement and leadership in extracurricular activities
Unlike many alumnae studies that focus on recent graduates, the Women’s College Coalition study assessed the long-term impact of the alumnae’s college experiences.
Other research supports the results of the study. For instance, data from the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) indicates that women’s colleges support high student-faculty interaction, create classroom conditions that encourage student collaboration and participation, and help women develop quantitative skills and leadership skills. Meredith has participated in NSSE for eleven years. Our students have traditionally given us high ratings in the five benchmark areas that address effective educational practices – click here for more information about NSSE at Meredith.