10 reasons to attend an all-girls school

Three Santa Catalina School girls walk and laugh

By Jamie Buffington Browne ’85
Director of Admission

I regularly hear our students say that they love being at an all-girls school. I am surrounded by this sentiment all of the time, and I’m a believer! But it is hard to put into words just how incredible it is, because it is a lived experience—one which is cherished throughout life by each graduate. For most of our applicants, attending an all-girls school is a new idea and it can be hard to imagine what it might be like.

The best quote I have ever heard about attending an all-girls school was at a panel about all-girls education in Palo Alto, CA. The panelists were students from a number of all-girls schools, and they were effusive about the impact their experience had on them. At the conclusion of the event, a provocative question was pitched. An audience member asked, “What did you not like about attending an all-girls school?” The panel was silent, searching their brains for what they didn’t like, and then one panelist took the mic and confidently said, “Always having to defend it.” To me, that was a mic-drop moment. I remember feeling that way as a student; there are a lot of misconceptions about attending an all-girls school. But I loved my experience. My education was better, my friendships were stronger, and I was engaged in a multitude of activities. It’s true—an all-girls school is not the typical high school experience. It is so much more!

Attending an all-girls school is a differentiator for young women. There are clear benefits to having a unique high school experience, without cookie-cutter outcomes. Throughout my time in admissions, I have interviewed many young women who are seeking out an all-girls education for many of the compelling reasons you see highlighted in the research. (I highly encourage you to check out the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools and, in particular, this blog post: The Girls’ School Advantage: Top Ten Reasons to Attend an All-Girls School.) However, I thought I would offer you some reasons to attend that you might not find on such lists. Here are my top ten reasons to consider attending an all-girls school:

10. It takes 10 minutes to get ready for school, which means you get more sleep.
9. No one cares about a bad hair day.
8. The student body president, MVP on an athletics team, standout male character in the play, and the robotics team captain are all positions held by girls.
7. There are no status points for having a boyfriend. How you treat others is what matters most.
6. Saying that you don’t understand something in class means you are a critical thinker; it does not get interpreted as you are not smart.
5. Our traditions develop a lifelong sisterhood of support and friendship.
4. Makeup and nail polish are optional.
3. You are part of a network of women leaders who want to see you succeed.
2. You don’t have to watch your back. Your girlfriends have your back, which means less drama and more fun!
1. You can be unapologetically yourself, in all the right ways.

And if you want some hard science on how an all-girls environment best serves young women in the pre-teen and teen years, I highly recommend The Confidence Code for Girls by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman. It is an easy read and compelling for adults and girls who are searching for a high school environment where girls can thrive.

An alumna summed up the value of an all-girls education beautifully with the inscription on the inside of her class ring. It reads, “The road less traveled by,” which is a reference to a Robert Frost quote: “I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”