Single-Sex Colleges: The Dating Scene

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Do you spend a large chunk of your mornings primping for your day? A lot of people claim they don’t make themselves look nice for the opposite sex, but just for themselves. So do you think you’d still do the same if you went to a school where there were no guys or girls to impress?

Single-sex education was developed to make people feel comfortable going to school and help students focus better without the “distraction” of the opposite sex. In his article, “Single-Sex Education: What Does Research Tell US,” Emer Smyth takes a look at research gathered about single-sex schools. According to his research, early studies showed that co-education had a negative effect on female academic performance because of the pressure to prioritize relationships with guys over schoolwork.

But the notion of separating guys and girls may be unrealistic. If they don’t have that vital interaction, how are students at single-sex schools supposed to learn about the world of dating without breaking the rules?

“The dating scene is slim to none,” says Oreal, a student at Georgian Court University, a women’s private Roman Catholic university, where men are only allowed to take classes at night." The rule with guys is that they can visit during visiting hours but they cannot spend the night.

That doesn’t mean the rules are being followed. In a 2001 article in Rolling Stone “The Highly Charged Erotic Life of the Wellesley Girl,” the magazine took a look at just how the women at Wellesley’s sexual deprivation turn them into desperate, sex-crazed predators whenever there was a guy around. Every few years, the school would accept one male student, who would then be the object of every student’s affection, sleeping with numerous women and being constantly showered with attention.

Then, there’s the idea that students at these colleges are gay. “Some girls come in with boyfriends, but some come in straight and then are gay after a year or so.”

While this idea is controversial, especially among feminists, it’s not hard to see how women can turn to women where there are very few options for men. It doesn’t necessarily mean that single-sex schools transform straight people into bona fide homosexuals. Terms like SLUG (Smith Lesbians Until Graduation) have been coined to describe the wave of students at single-sex colleges carrying out relationships with the same sex for the duration of their time there.

So does the mission of single-sex education live up to the hype? Results from various American studies have been scattered and do not provide clear, general answers. According to Smyth, more recent studies have shown that there is no significant difference in overall achievement in any subject unless the students are minorities or from low socio-economic backgrounds while other studies have shown no difference at all.

Overall, it’s a matter of preference. Obviously, as the United States is primarily co-educational, most of us have adapted to being around the opposite sex and don’t need to attend a single-sex school in order to succeed. Some people feel more at ease attending single-sex schools and that’s fine, too. 

Senior > Magazine Journalism > Temple University

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