Thursday, July 24, 2008

Are all-women's colleges really that bad?

Well, I really do not know. When I was in college, I was pretty irritated by the fact that WCC did not admit men. It cannot. Simply because it is the Women's Christian College. But today, when I read a few posts on same-sex education, it got me thinking again. Like Chandni and Sunita, I too was a vigorous advocate of co-educational schools for much of my life. But now, I am not so sure. What sporadic blogger said in her post is quite true.

"We are who we are, largely because we studied in an all-girls institution. And by that, I mean, we grew into people who are confident of their, our, ability. In several co-ed colleges, one sees that very few girls ever occupy union positions. If they do at all, they are elected into positions that are traditionally seen as a female domain-cultural representatives, literary representatives."

This, to a certain extent is true. I studied 14 years in a co-ed school. Three years in a women's college instilled the confidence that 14 years of co-ed failed to do. I was always rather talkative, but college channeled that urge to talk into something constructive and made me a debater. Now, let me say that any college could have done that. But the fact that I was accepted for what I was in WCC made a huge difference. Let me give you a rather personal example here. When I was in school, I was constantly judged on how I looked, how tall, how fat, how thin, how beautiful I was. I was judged on what boys (immature and even superficial young men) thought of me. If the class "cool guy" thought I was not worth talking to, nobody would. Not even the equally "un-hep" reject of the class. I stepped into college with a lot of apprehension. I constantly looked over my shoulder to see who was scrutinising my actions and judging my appearance. To my utter surprise, nobody cared about what I wore or how fair or how dark I was. To them, to the hundreds of girls I was surrounded by every day, I was normal. For the first time in life, I felt at home.

This was a personal experience. I will not say that co-ed is bad. But I would like to disagree with one point that Chandni makes. She says,

"In college we found girls who were 18 plus, behaving with the opposite sex, in a fashion that we did when we were 13. You know, the whole excitement and hype regarding “boys” when the hormones are in full swing and you suddenly see the “pests” with new eyes!"

Uhm...I do not agree. At 18, girls are not all that mature. Maybe growing up in a co-ed environment makes girls more confident. But, crushes do happen. At 18 or even at 23. Judging a girl as immature because she crushes on a cute guy is not fair. I blushed like hell when I first went out with my boyfriend. And I was at the ripe old age of 23. Hell! I still do sometimes. So?

I admit, at WCC, we definitely were excited at the prospect of culturals because they meant that guys would come. But we were barely out of our teens for goodness' sake! And we were women. Of course we wanted them to come to college. As someone points out in the comments section, not all women from all-girls' institutions behave like blubbering idiots in front of men. Some co-ed girls do so too. I think it's hardly fair to blame a type of education system for that.

I just think that each has its advantages. I for one loved my time at WCC. I could do what I pleased (as long as Mrs. Phillips didn't hear of it). I did not care a damn what I wore most of the time because we were all women. I have friends who used to turn up to classes in their nightsuits and pajamas because they woke up at 8:25 for an 8:30 class. It's all fun. The shopping, the gossip, the late-night secret chats over cell-phone (because my hostelite friends had sneaked it in without the warden's knowledge), everything was fun.


Ms Cris said...

Ah something I could talk about. I am from an all-girls school and I will tell you three kind of behaviours I have heard or observed of, on reaching a co-ed college at 18:

1. The shy kind: who never looks at or acknowledges men, and desperately avoid them. This cateogry is quite comfortable with the female part of the class. And yes, the ignoring part does not come out of any kind of aversion. Its simply outright shyness and unused feelings one doesnt want to get used to. I can say this so well because I belonged to this category. And admittedly, when I first joined an all-girls college after school (before a transfer), I was quite dejected, having looked forward to being in the same class with men after all those years in school.

2. The over-excited kind (your friend mentioned): Such a kind exists as I have observed. Its not typical but its still there. They are enchanted by this new world and most ready to start new friendships with all men, and/or flirt without really realizing it.

3. The comfortable kind: This was a suprise to me, when I found people in this kind I mean. They treated men just like they treated everybody else, like they knew them for years. Have no idea how they do it. Hmm advisable to take classes from these scholars, by kinds 1 and 2 before any major deal with one of the opposite gender.

Years down the lane (or is it up?), I can look men in the eyes and even talk with some of them heheh. So I guess I could let them survive ;-)

Still I'd any day agree to a deal where I could forever be a student of Holy Angels ISC, Nanthencode, my alma-mater. I have infact secretly prayed lots as a child, for a miracle to happen that would extend school to 13th,14th and so on forever...

Sriram said...

sweeping generalisations never work because the situations we face are never the same as that others do and hence trying to be bullheaded in applying a non-existant framework to the real world will cause more harm, than if you were to use your brains...

Imp's Mom said...

Am so glad I came across this post.What an eye opener. I find my self agreeing to what you have to say. I have not read the other posts yet.

All my life I studied in a co-ed never in an all girls school. And i never thought that studying in an exclusive girls college could do wonders for one's confidence. I was constantly judged too and now I've become thick skinned.

I came across the shy kind and the over expressive kind, that ms cris talks about..the confidence kind, I just took them to be confident, didn't think that it could be due to the college atmosphere.

And some turning up in their night suits? and no woman bitched about it? Wow! :)

Amrutha said...

Imp's mom: No, women never bitched about someone turning up in her nightdress. I suppose the fact that you can do something like that means you are comfortable enough to reveal you real self sans make-up or anything. It's something I came to appreciate after the initial shock.

sporadicblogger said...

Hi, I just read your post. You make a compelling point, one that slipped my mind-the coming to class in nightclothes. That is indeed liberating beyond belief :D

Amrutha said...

sporadic blogger: It was such a liberating experience that I will never forget it.

Sunita said...

I am glad you girls make a strong case because we have decided to send my daughter to a all-girls school. Whatever was my experience will remain mine and I will learn from my daughter what it means to be in a all-girls school.

Amrutha said...

Sunita: That wasn't exactly my intention. But, if I managed to convince you, that's great! :-)