Women’s Colleges—Fun Facts and Figures

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There are so many advantages to studying at women only institutions. Here are just a few women’s colleges that have educated some of the finest minds.

1. Agnes Scott: Agnes Scott is located just outside of Atlanta in Decatur, Georgia. Founded in 1889 by Presbyterian clergy, the college was originally called the Decatur Female Seminary. Agnes Scott’s mission is to “educates women to think deeply, live honorably and engage the intellectual and social challenges of their times.”

Fun Facts:

  • Agnes Scott is a small school (just over 900 students are enrolled) with an impressive student to teacher ratio: there is 1 faculty member for every 11 students.
  • Undergraduate students represent 38 states and territories and 32 countries
  • The Scotties have six varsity teams (basketball, lacrosse, soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball) that play at the NCAA Division III level.

 

2. Bennett College for Women: Bennett is one of two historically Black women’s colleges in the United States. The college, located in Greensboro, North Carolina, was founded as a co-ed institution to educated formerly enslaved African Americans. The school became a women’s college in 1926 and is affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Bennett’s philosophy is that a “high quality college experience should provide its women students with strong academic and co-curricular programs that encourage their personal development, endorse life-long learning, and prepare them to meet the needs of an ever-changing society.”

Fun Facts:

  • Bennett has 766 students enrolled, with about two-thirds of the student population hailing from out-of-state.
  • Students can major in unique programs such as Womanist Religious Studies, Global Studies, and Africana Women’s Studies or enroll in dual degree programs with North Carolina A&T State University if they want to Chemistry/Chemical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, or Mechanical Engineering.
  • Bennett has a storied legacy connected to the civil rights students. During the 1960s as students across Greensboro agitated for civil rights, many Bennett Belles (as the students are affectionately known) advocated alongside other student protestors.

 

3. Bryn Mawr College: Bryn Mawr, one of the original Seven Sister colleges, was founded in 1885 and was initially connected to the Quakers. By 1893, the school did away with that specific religion affiliation but remains “committed to Quaker values such as freedom of conscience.” Located in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, the college’s mission is to “provide a rigorous education and to encourage the pursuit of knowledge as preparation for life and work.”

Fun Facts:

  • 1300 undergraduate and 400 graduate students are enrolled at Bryn Mawr.
  • Each year close to 50% of juniors choose to study abroad for a semester or the entire academic year.
  • Famous alumnae include civil rights activist Grace Lee Boggs, classics scholar Edith Hamilton, Oscar-winning actress Katharine Hepburn, and noted poet Marianne Moore.

 

4. Mills College:  Mills College, located in Oakland, California, was founded in 1852. Originally founded as a seminary for women, Mills’ mission is one that seeks to “educate students to think critically and communicate responsibly and effectively, to accept the challenges of their creative visions, and to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to effect thoughtful changes in a global, multicultural society.”

Fun Facts:

  • The student body includes 997 undergraduate women and 611 graduate women and men and has an impressive student to faculty ratio of 10:1
  • Mills was founded the same year the city of Oakland was established and just two years after California gained statehood.
  • Mills is the oldest women’s college west of the Rockies.

 

5. Mount Holyoke College: Mount Holyoke, located in South Hadley, Massachusetts, is the first member of the Seven Sisters college. Founded in 1837 as Mount Holyoke Female Seminary by Mary Lyon, the college is part of the Pioneer Valley’s Five College Consortium, which also includes Amherst College, Hampshire College, Smith College, and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Mary Lyon encouraged her students to “Go where no one else will go, do what no one else will do,” a message that continues to inspire today.

Fun Facts:

  • 2,183 students are enrolled at Mount Holyoke and the college boasts a 10:1 student to faculty ratio.
  • In 2011, the Princeton Review reported that Mount Holyoke ranked first in the category of “best classroom experience.”
  • Notable students and alumnae include former secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, renowned poet Emily Dickinson, playwrights Wendy Wasserstein and Suzan-Lori Parks, and Frances Perkins, former secretary of Labor under the FDR administration and the first woman to appointed to the U.S. Cabinet.

 

6. Smith College: Smith, the largest member of the Seven Sisters located in Northampton, Massachusetts, is one of several prestigious women’s colleges in the northeast. Founded in 1871, it shares the Pioneer Valley with nearby Mount Holyoke College and the other colleges in the Five College Consortium.  The college notes that their successful alumnae network rejects the “old boys’ network” becomes an “ageless women’s network.”

Fun Facts:

  • Smith has 2600 students and features an impressive 9:1 student to faculty ratio.
  • Smith awards its bachelor degrees solely to women, but its graduate programs are open to men as well.
  • Notable alumnae include famed poet Sylvia Plath, feminist icons Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem, former First Lady Nancy Reagan, and world renowned chef, Julia Child.
     

7. Spelman College: Spelman, one of two historically Black women’s colleges, is located in Atlanta was founded in 1881. Spelman is part of the largest consortium of historically Black colleges and universities in the world.

Its four partner institutions include Clark Atlanta University, the Interdenominational Theological Center, Morehouse College, and Morehouse School of Medicine. Spelman’s mission is “is dedicated to academic excellence in the liberal arts and sciences and the intellectual, creative, ethical, and leadership development of its students. Spelman empowers the whole person to engage the many cultures of the world and inspires a commitment to positive social change.”

Fun Facts:

  • The student body is comprised of 2,100 students from 41 states and 15 foreign countries, and with a student to faculty ration of 12 to 1.
  • Forbes ranks Spelman among the nation’s top ten best women’s colleges. 
  • Notable students and alumnae include Pulitzer Prize winning author Alice Walker, noted feminist scholar Beverly Guy Sheftall, actress Keisha Knight Pulliam, and activist, scholar, and founder of singing group Sweet Honey in the Rock, Bernice Johnson Reagon.

 

8. Wellesley College: Wellesley is one of the Seven Sisters. Founded in 1870 and located just outside of Boston, Massachusetts, Wellesley currently has 2300 students enrolled. Wellesley’s mission is “to provide an excellent liberal arts education for women who will make a difference in the world.”

Fun Facts:

  • The school’s motto is “Not to be ministered unto but to minister.”
  • The college boasts a very impressive student 7:1 student to faculty ratio.
  • Notable alumnae include screenwriter Nora Ephron, journalist Diane Sawyer, and former secretaries of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Madeline Albright.

     

    These are just a few of the about 50 women’s colleges in the United States. Click here to learn more about the other women’s colleges not listed.