(Source: Hampden-Sydney College)
OK, here's a test. Start naming single-sex colleges for women. Go.
Bet you got quite a few: Wellesley, Bryn Mawr, Mt. Holyoke, Smith, Wheaton, Simmons, and so forth. Pretty easy, eh?
Now try this. Name all the single-sex colleges for men. Ready…go.
Um…right. Thought so.
As this New York Times article points out, there are only four: Hampden-Sydney, in Virginia; Wabash College, near Indianapolis; Morehouse College in Atlanta; and Deep Springs, a tiny, two-year college located on a cattle ranch in eastern California. It seems only a relative handful of men seek schools without women (go figure), while many more women are comfortable learning sans men. But at these four holdouts, the spirit of single-sex education remains strong.
Here's a snippet:
Once upon a time, not that long ago really, there was such a thing as a Yale man or a Dartmouth man or, closer to here, a University of Virginia or Washington and Lee man, each believed to be an identifiable subset of the male species. By the mid-1960's, there were still almost 250 all-male colleges, heirs to a long tradition of male entitlement going back to the beginnings of higher education in America. But by the late 60's, hammered by questions about their relevance, their fairness, their exclusivity and their reasons for existing, nearly all began to go coed. [....]
But an odd thing has happened on the road to extinction. In the past few years, a major public debate about education has shifted from underperforming women to underperforming men, from how schools fail to support girls to how they fail to support boys. Consistently, boys do more poorly than girls when tested for verbal skills and get lower grades, and they are more likely to drop out of high school and college. Nationally, the gender mix on campuses has shifted from a predominance of men to one that's 57 percent women and 43 percent men. As a result, men's colleges find themselves talking about issues that sound oddly contemporary. Long after everyone else changed, the dinosaurs seem to be having their day.
Read the full article here.
Oh, and by the way, if you're curious about what life's like at Deep Springs, read this bit from their website:
Students often rise before the sun. At 6:00 the dairy boys are already milking cows half asleep when the feedman gets up to do his first feed run. A farm teamer may have been in the tractor baling hay since 4:30. All of these people are especially thankful for the breakfast cook, who's up early preparing the morning's fixin's.
But they're not the only ones up. Some people pull all-nighters to get their work done. Others sleep first and wake up excruciatingly early to do classwork. At every hour of the day there are at least a couple people up, discussing Heidegger, playing chess, or strumming guitars.
Classes are usually held on weekday mornings between breakfast and lunch. The class schedule is put together by the chair of CurCom at the beginning of each term to accomodate the needs of all students. Typically a student has one or two classes each day.
After classes the community saunters to the Boarding House (BH), summoned by five clangs of the big bell. Conversation at the lunch table varies widely. Some students just out of The Copernican Revolution may be continuing their class discussion over lunch. Others argue about the worth of People magazine. And many work out the plan for afternoon labor. The General Labor crew meets to work out today's projects, the Farm Teamers discuss their irrigation schedule, and the cooks plan their dinner.
Soon after lunch the BH crew is hard at work scrubbing pots, the feedman is back on another run, and the rest of the students are scattered about, each with special projects for the afternoon.
Most labor positions entail working from lunch until dinner. This could mean spending an entire day alone in an alfalfa field fixing leaks in irrigation lines, repairing fences and gates with a partner, or working as a group to dig up frozen pipes that need to be repaired and insulated. There are less romantic jobs that could mean spending the day in the office or scrubbing toilets in the main building.
Sign me up!