During my four years of high school, I didn’t have to deal with PDAs in the hallway or drama in homeroom over the school’s cutest couple breaking up, or worry about a slipping social status because I wasn’t dating a popular guy.
That’s because I attended an all-girls’ high school. And, I’ve got to say, it was a pretty enjoyable time.
Most of the stereotypes about single-sex schools just aren’t true. For example: Yes, I still managed to make friends with boys and have a boyfriend. No, I’m not socially stunted. No, we’re not (all) catty bitches.
But I did have a dress code. Classes could be pretty intense. And so could the drama – but which one of those things didn’t happen at public schools?
You’ll often hear advocates lobby for single-sex education with a reasoning along the lines of “no members of the opposite sex, therefore, more focus on school.”
Yeah, not quite.
We may not have spent a ton of time getting ready every morning, but we still spent study halls curled up in corners of the library, gossiping about boys and friends. We passed notes in the hallways and decorated each other’s lockers on birthdays, but we kept each other awake and focused late into the night to finish our Shakespeare papers or cram for midterms.
We were still teenage girls, no more or less focused on schoolwork than we each would have been if our school was co-ed school.
Then there are the public school kids who think private schools have no school spirit or unity.
We may not have a football team to cheer on or a homecoming to attend, but we definitely had school spirit – we just showed it differently. Our spirit week garb included bed sheet togas and ‘80s prom dresses, rather than school-color body paint.
But we also had traditions that co-ed or public schools might not have had the opportunity for – Father-Daughter Dance and Mother-Daughter Brunch, a senior class trip to Disney World, and the “senior run,” which can only be described as a screaming, cheering stampede through the halls on the last day of classes.
What I’m trying to say is that almost everything that happened in a co-ed high school happened in my high school – maybe just in different ways. There were trends and fads, but you weren’t necessarily judged or shunned if you didn’t have a North Face jacket or wear Uggs.
There were still cliques, and girls of different backgrounds and demeanors, but those cliques weren’t as defined as they may have been in a co-ed school. Of course, that just means that, for the most part, we were fairly kind and civil to each other; it doesn’t mean we weren’t all BFFLs.
There were times when I wish I’d gone to a co-ed school – or, more accurately, wished I could get away from the drama that can come with putting 600 or so teenaged girls together for five days a week for four years – but I wouldn’t change my decision to attend a single-sex school.
And that’s because, above everything else, I think attending a single-sex school gave me the opportunity to become the person I wanted to be, without having to hide things about myself or worry about what people might think. Yes, girls can be judgmental, but I think, as a sex, we are less so when we’re not trying to impress boys.
Maybe that’s why I’ve remained such good friends with so many of those people. Not having boys around took some of the edge off, and, in turn, we found friends who liked us for our true selves and who we liked for the same reasons.
We all got to relax a little bit and be ourselves – and that’s huge when you’re a teenager.