Let’s face it, middle school and high school can be a challenging time. You're trying to figure out who you are and how you fit into the world around you. While we strongly recommend boys and girls learn together during their younger, more impressionable years, going to an all-girls' school during middle and high school helps girls focus more on who they want to become and what their strengths are.
There is no shortage of data out there about the benefits of an all-girls' education — including how girls attending single-sex schools are more likely to have an experience that supports their learning than girls attending coed schools; and how girls’ school grads are six times more likely to consider majoring in math, science and technology compared to girls who attend coed schools. But why is that? What makes the all-girls’ environment so different and empowering for women?
For those of you considering an all-girls’ education for yourselves or your children, we’ve got the scoop after talking with more than 60 alumnae from Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child's all-girls Upper School (grades 7-12):
An all-girls’ school gives students the confidence and courage to speak their minds, explore different passions and pursue their goals. “An all-girls education helped me to break out of my shell,” said Erin Moran ’00. “I was painfully shy, and it allowed me to speak up in class, explore who I was as a person and grow with my classmates.”
The single-sex environment also instills the foundation that girls can do anything. “You could ask questions or make mistakes or be a leader or play sports, and no one attributed those triumphs or defeats to your gender,” said Laura O’Gorman Schwartz ’06.
An all-girls’ education provides an environment for students in which they can challenge each other intellectually, uninterrupted. “Being in a same-sex environment allows students to put differences and distractions aside so that they can approach difficult and challenging topics in a more constructive manner,” said Caroline Dillon ’13.
There are also fewer distractions surrounding boys, social and fashion concerns. “I was never concerned with how I looked each day or being embarrassed by something I said or did,” said “Keelan Happel Dunn ’04. “An all-girls’ education allows women to center their minds on education, athletics and all the extracurriculars available to them instead of all the other possible ‘noises’ many high schoolers deal with.”
The strong friendships that are created in an all-girls' education are founded on trust, support and love — and they will last for a lifetime. “The sisterhood that I was able to experience has changed me and made me the independent, confident and conscientious woman I am today,” said Allison Palmeri ’17.
The small class environment also helps create a sense unity. “I felt there was such on a strong emphasis on community, not competition,” said Natasha Pontoriero ’15. “I always felt supported by my teachers, faculty and my friends, and I feel like the sense of unity also extended beyond my high school experience and helped to cultivate lasting friendships.”
The single-sex environment also creates a space where students feel comfortable learning to speak up and be heard, with faculty focused on empowering girls’ voices and encouraging women to be leaders, committed to community and social impact, diverse in thought and leadership.
“We were encouraged to look beyond and find our passions, and seek to discover the truth about who we were as women,” said Laura Steenberg ’05. “They helped up develop our leadership skills and how to face challenges head on.”