The Girls’ School Advantage: Top Ten Reasons to Attend an All-Girls School

The admissions season is coming to a close with families weighing their options. They are pouring over acceptance letters, evaluating financial aid packages, and reviewing for the final time their pros and cons lists comparing different schools. Lists that will help them make the ultimate decision—one that’s led equally by the head and the heart—which school will they entrust with educating their daughter.

For many families, they are making a choice between a girls’ school and one or more coed schools. NCGS encourages families to ask themselves, “What do girls’ schools do best?” We’re confident they will discover the answer to be, “A lot.”

Whether she wants to be an astronaut, ambassador, or accountant, a girl needs to know—not just think, but really know, deep down in her gut—nothing can stand in her way. Girls’ schools send that message to girls every day.

To help remind families how a girls’ school will engage, challenge, inspire, and prepare their daughter, here’s a list of the top ten reasons to attend an all-girls school supported by research:

10. INSPIRATIONAL ENVIRONMENT

Girls’ schools champion the education needs of girls.

Single-sex programs…create an institutional and classroom climate in which female students can express themselves freely and frequently, and develop higher order thinking skills. —Dr. Rosemary C. Salomone, St. John’s University, Public Single-Sex Schools: What Oprah Knew

The robust learning environment encountered by students at all-girls schools is highlighted by a recent survey of high school students. The girls’ responses provide unequivocal support for the value of an all-girls educational environment. —Dr. Richard A. Holmgren, Steeped in Learning: The Student Experience at All-Girls Schools

9. ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT

Girls’ schools create a culture of achievement.

More than 80% of girls’ school grads consider their academic performance highly successful. —Dr. Linda Sax, UCLA, Women Graduates of Single-Sex and Coeducational High Schools: Differences in their Characteristics and the Transition to College

Nearly 80% of girls’ school students report most of their classes challenge them to achieve their full academic potential compared to 72.3% of girls at coed independent and 44.3% at coed public schools. —Dr. Richard A. Holmgren, Allegheny College, Steeped in Learning: The Student Experience at All-Girls Schools

8. BUILDS SELF-CONFIDENCE

At girls’ schools, a girl occupies every role.

Majority of girls’ school grads report higher self-confidence over their coed peers. —Dr. Linda Sax, UCLA, Women Graduates of Single-Sex and Coeducational High Schools: Differences in their Characteristics and the Transition to College

All-girls settings seem to provide girls a certain comfort level that helps them develop greater self-confidence and broader interests, especially as they approach adolescence. —Dr. Rosemary C. Salomone, St. John’s University, Same, Difference, Equal: Rethinking Single-Sex Schooling

7. DEVELOPS LEADERSHIP SKILLS

Girls’ schools empower students to become bold leaders.

Programs at girls’ schools focus on the development of teamwork over other qualities of leadership, while the qualities of confidence, compassion, and resilience also ranked prominently. —Dr. Nicole Archard, Kincoppal-Rose Bay School of the Sacred Heart, Student Leadership Development in Australian and New Zealand Secondary Girls’ Schools: A Staff Perspective

93% of girls’ school grads say they were offered greater leadership opportunities than peers at coed schools and 80% have held leadership positions since graduating from high school. —Goodman Research Group, The Girls’ School Experience: A Survey of Young Alumnae of Single-Sex Schools

6. SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING & MATH (STEM)

Girls’ schools champion the educational needs of girls as a group underrepresented in STEM majors and careers.

Girls’ school grads are 6 times more likely to consider majoring in math, science, and technology compared to girls who attend coed schools. —Goodman Research Group, The Girls’ School Experience: A Survey of Young Alumnae of Single-Sex Schools

Compared to coed peers, girls’ school grads are 3 times more likely to consider engineering careers. —Dr. Linda Sax, UCLA, Women Graduates of Single-Sex and Coeducational High Schools: Differences in their Characteristics and the Transition to College

During the middle school years, girls show a decline in both their performance in math and their attitudes towards math. New research suggests that girls’ schools may mitigate the decline when compared with coed schools. —Dr. Carlo Cerruti, Harvard University, Exploring Girls’ Attitudes About Math

5. DEDICATED TO HOW GIRLS LEARN

Girls’ schools capitalize on girls’ unique learning styles.

To be successful, students need more than just a feeling of support. That support must translate into actions geared toward student success. Nearly 96% of girls’ school students report receiving more frequent feedback on their assignments and other course work compared to 92.9% of girls at coed independent and 79.5% at coed public schools. —Dr. Richard A. Holmgren, Allegheny College, Steeped in Learning: The Student Experience at All-Girls Schools

A study prepared for the U.S. Department of Education observed, “more positive academic and behavioral interactions between teachers and students in the single-sex schools than in the comparison to coed schools.” —U.S. Department of Education, Early Implementation of Public Single-Sex Schools: Perceptions and Characteristics

4. HIGHER ASPIRATIONS

Girls’ school students strive for greatness.

Girls at all levels of achievement in the single-sex schools receive a…benefit from the single-sex school environment in terms of heightened career aspirations—an effect unprecedented in any other portion of our study. —Dr. Cary M. Watson, Stanford University, Sex Roles: A Journal of Research

Students at all-girls schools have higher aspirations and greater motivation than their female peers at coed independent and public schools. More than 2/3 expect to earn a graduate or professional degree. —Dr. Richard A. Holmgren, Allegheny College, Steeped in Learning: The Student Experience at All-Girls Schools

3. EXCELLENT MENTORING

Girls’ school students are mentored by a community of peers, teachers, and school administrators.

The overwhelming majority of girls’ school students agree to strongly agree that they feel supported at their schools: 94.6% feel supported by their teachers compared to 84.1% of girls at coed schools, 89.9% report feeling supported by other students compared to 73.1% of girls at coed schools, and 82.8% feel supported by their school administrators compared 62.6% of girls at coed schools.  —Dr. Richard A. Holmgren, Allegheny College, Steeped in Learning: The Student Experience at All-Girls Schools

Research indicates that girls place more emphasis on interpersonal relationships than boys, which may provide girls with beneficial social support… Compared to boys, girls are more likely to socialize in smaller groups, share more personal information with each other, and emphasize helping behavior over competitive behavior in their friendships. —Dr. Lisa Damour, Center for Research on Girls at Laurel School, Girls and Their Peers

2. PREPARES GIRLS FOR THE REAL WORLD

Girls’ schools engage students in activities that prepare them for life beyond the classroom.

Nearly half of all women graduating from single-sex schools rate their public speaking ability as high compared to 38.5% of women graduates from coed schools. A similar differential exists for writing abilities: 64.2% of girls’ school graduates assess their writing as high, compared to 58.8% of women graduates of coed schools. —Dr. Linda Sax, UCLA, Women Graduates of Single-Sex and Coeducational High Schools: Differences in their Characteristics and the Transition to College

In the world outside of school, the answers are not always found in the text. All-girls schools prepare students for the world beyond school by requiring outside research, encouraging them to connect ideas across problem domains, and challenging them to grapple with problems with no clear solution. —Dr. Richard A. Holmgren, Allegheny College, Steeped in Learning: The Student Experience at All-Girls Schools

1. ALLOWS GIRLS TO BE THEMSELVES

Girls’ schools provide an environment where students feel safe to express themselves and engage in an open and safe exchange of ideas.

Over 88% of girls’ school students report they are comfortable being themselves at school, which means they are free to focus their energies on their learning. —Dr. Richard A. Holmgren, Allegheny College, Steeped in Learning: The Student Experience at All-Girls Schools

93% of girls’ school grads are very or extremely satisfied with their school’s ability to provide individualized attention, and 80% strongly feel encouragement to develop their own interests. —Goodman Research Group, The Girls’ School Experience: A Survey of Young Alumnae of Single-Sex Schools


Megan Murphy, Executive Director, National Coalition of Girls’ Schools

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