This spring it was announced the Sweet Briar College would be closing their doors. Since I am imagining that most of you don’t know about Sweet Briar, indulge me in a brief history. The college first opened its doors in 1906 to an all woman student body and has remained all female through its 109 year existence.
It has been one of the most expensive, private, liberal arts colleges in Virginia. Needless to say, the student body is comprised of daughters from very wealthy families. If a boy wanted a wealthy girlfriend, all he ever had to do was to hang out in the parking lot around a car he liked and wait for the unsuspecting young lady. Nowadays, we’d call that stalking.
I had a friend who went there and loved it. I am sure she is feeling it as a blow to the heart and I feel deeply for her loss.
Nationally, it seems that single sex colleges are on the outs. And also the fact that most young people are looking for degrees that will lead to high paying jobs upon graduation. I guess degrees in philosophy, history and English have never paid the big bucks and people want something to show for the crazy amount of money it costs for 4 – 5 years of school.
Well, here is my quandary. How much better would my life have been if I had attended a single sex school? Would it have made any difference?
In many ways I think it would have been great not to have had the sexual pressures that are pervasive at traditional large universities. I spent a lot of time wasted with a broken heart, mooning over romantic flings that ended up in tears.
Also, I wouldn’t have spent so much time on hair and makeup. My friend told me that they never dressed up for class….sometimes wearing sweats and heels to class…..hey it was the 80’s.
I went to my first Mary Kay party back in the 80’s and it felt different. All women, booze and makeup, what a great combination and it felt good. Being raised in a household of 4 brothers, mom, dad and myself, there was a lot of testosterone. I had never felt this comradery while lathering up my face with Mary Kay cleanser. So I can only assume that single sex education would lead to more focus, less competition to be heard over more dominant alpha male types.
I was courted for a while by Bryn Mawr, a very well-known women’s college in Pennsylvania. I had great PSAT’s and got on all the mailing lists of the top schools. (SAT’s on the other hand….not so much, lol) Bryn Mawr was having an informational meeting at an alumna’s house in the well-to-do area of town and I was personally invited.
Looking at their glossy brochure, I remembered being terribly flattered. I had no idea of what I wanted to do in life, like a lot of other kids. I thought I should go, see what it is about. I had never even been to the college. I hadn’t really been to any college except for the two that my brothers had chosen. What did I know?
However, my mother’s reaction was appalling. I remember her vaguely alluding that it was for gay women or that I would become gay if I went there…..Even at the tender age of 17, this I knew was so wrong on many levels. I forgave my mother as she was only trying to do, say what she thought best. And I didn’t go to alumni/prospective student mixer.
I did chose a liberal arts, co-ed college that I loved in state, much cheaper. I dropped out after 4 years and no degree, only to go back to another school 2 years later and finish in something completely unrelated. A lot of the early college days was spent trying to find myself in men.
But, even though I wanted to go to Bryn Mawr or at least learn about it…I also wanted to please my parents. I wanted some direction and positive path to the future. How differently would my life have been if I had gone there? Who knows.