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Lesson 2: It’s not a girl’s school, it’s a women’s college.

May 2, 2011

My experience with a women’s college began like most: “ack…. an all girls school? No way!”  But once I got

Brenau University Pearce Auditorium, Gainesville, GA

there, my tune changed fast.  Now I make it my mission to prove how unique the women’s college experience is.  When you look at statistics, it’s obvious to see how I’ve been swayed.

First, according to a Hardwick Day study commissioned by the Women’s College Coalition, women’s college students are more invested in their campuses.  They are more likely to be involved in campus publications and student government (43% compared to 31% at coed liberal arts schools and 13% at public flagship universities); they hold a leadership position on campus twice as often as liberal arts school students and over three times more often than at flagship universities.  Addtionally, they usually live on campus for their entire undergraduate career (81% compared to just 34% flagship schools).

Not convincing enough?  I would like to argue that women’s colleges produce better people.  Women’s college grads are more than twice as likely to work in the non-profit sector than students at coed flagship universities are.  They are also more likely to consider contributing to their communities a priority, and more likely to contribute to foundations or community organizations.  Finally, they are more likely than their coed peers to participate in community service projects.

And they make better leaders.  First, their students have more experience than students at other colleges and universities.  A student at a women’s university is around 20% more likely to hold a leadership position than her friend at the flagship school.  She’s also attending a school that’s a member of the group of universities receiving the highest effectiveness rating in developing leaders–60% in the 1992-2002 test group compared to 19% for public coed universities.

But enough with statistics.  I see this everyday on my campus.  The women around me love Brenau; they are devoted to it unconditionally. Even the most prestigious organization on campus demands that its members only prove their loyalty and love for the university.  Their mission statement explains, “Everything a student does from her entrance into college, to serve the college…will bring her that much nearer the goal” of membership.  This organization is often referred to as “Highest Given Honor,” and I think that says a lot about women at Brenau.  There is no higher honor to a Brenau Woman than recognition for her investment in and service to her campus.

I see a budding passion for service in school mates too.  The recent Fill the Bus canned food drive organized by Brenau University Athletics is an incredible example of this commitment.  The Golden Tiger Athletic teams collected cans and donations for the Good News at Noon clinic and food bank.  They eagerly involved the rest of their Brenau community and the Gainesville community for the first annual event, who were more than happy to contribute.  The drive raised over 1,000 cans of food.  Good News at Noon had only expected a few hundred from the collection.

And of course, Brenau’s chock full of leadership opportunities.  Here, I see few women that don’t hold an office in one organization (or more).  And the proof is in our almnae.  The first woman to receive the Scientific Achievement Award, Roslyn Wallace, graduated from Brenau.  Two former congresswomen also graduated from Brenau: Florence Reville Gibbs and Lera Millard Thomas.

Helen Dortch Longstreet, a prominent figure in Georgia, and a political activist also attended Brenau, although in her time it was still known as the Georgia Baptist Female Seminary (no affiliation to the Baptist Church).  She is known for authoring bills allowing women to hold positions in the Georgia state government, spearheading one of the first environmental conservation movements when she fought the Georgia Power Company’s dam at Tallulah Falls (she unfortunately failed), and serving as a delegate  to the Progressive Party’s 1912 convention.

Now, after spending two years at a single-sex university, and studying up on the statistics of alumnae of schools similar to mine, I can’t understand how anyone wouldn’t want to attend a women’s university.  I’m also slightly embarrassed by my own shallow first impression of an “all girls school” when I started my college search.

But now I know better.  Brenau University isn’t for girls; it’s for grown ass women.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Katie permalink
    May 2, 2011 9:49 pm

    You are a boss. Love this!!

  2. May 2, 2011 10:51 pm

    You are getting the education and experience I wish I had.

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