Options that aren't so co-ed

Although most US colleges are co-ed, students who want a single-sex learning environment still have a number of options. They range from single-sex colleges to designated dorms or floors for men and women at co-ed institutions. Some mixed schools have even experimented with classes that don't technically exclude anyone, but aim to address the needs of a certain gender. Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, for instance, has offered introductory courses in economics for women.

The number of women's colleges has dwindled to about 90 or 100, according to the US Department of Education. Most are liberal-arts or religious schools. They tend to tout positive academic trends. At Smith College, in Northampton, Mass., for instance, typically 25 to 30 percent of students major in sciences. That's a rate several times higher than the national average for women, says media-relations director Laurie Fenlason. Graduates of women's colleges also report higher levels of self-esteem than peers at co-ed schools, according to a study by the Women's College Coalition.

Only a handful of men-only liberal-arts schools remain, like Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Ind., or Deep Springs College in California. At Morehouse, a historically black college for men in Atlanta, the aim is still for young men to develop "disciplined minds, ethical leadership, and academic excellence," says Eddie Gaffney, dean of student services.

Most co-ed schools, especially large ones, offer single-sex dorms in addition to mixed living. Others still offer only single-sex living. At Hillsdale College in Michigan, separate dorms create "extremely clean, civil, and safe" environments, a dean says. Weekly visiting hours are "more than enough to socialize," says senior Tara Thelen.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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