Rosie Stoff
April 09, 2013 3:00 am

For four long years, grades six through nine, I attended a rigid, traditional all-girls school. I had to get out, for the sake of my future! “This isn’t how the world is!” I would say to myself in frustration. Unless I was planning on going to an all-women’s college and then a convent, I felt like I was going to be unprepared for life if I stayed one second longer. I was fortunately able to transfer to a progressive, co-ed, non-uniformed art school. Much more my style.

In 2013, is single-sex education really the way to go? My view on the subject is no. Others may differ, but I always think, isn’t high school supposed to transition you into the world, college, and life on your own? How can that be successfully done when you are singularly interacting with only girls in an educational environment? The shock of all of a sudden being in a class with boys upon entering college must be just as scary as leaving home on the collegiate journey!

Once I switched schools, I found myself with valuable – and what I’m sure to be life long – friendships with the boys I sat with in class. Yes, there were some quite handsome ones that my eye would wander to in class, but not enough to distract me from my work, have me expelled for poor grades and end up a delinquent on the street. And look at that, not pregnant! Isn’t that the fear of parents? Well, smart child, smart decisions = successful in a co-ed school! I really felt if I had stayed, I would have been unprepared for life after high school, socially speaking. I wasn’t going to an all-women’s college, and how many jobs are there where there are strictly women in the workplace? Being Jewish, nun wasn’t really an option.

Having spent middle school – those really developmental years, around very few boys – talking to them became a major cause of stress. I clammed up and couldn’t put a sentence together. I later learned that I came off as a combination of snobby, shy and rude – simply because I hadn’t spent enough time in social situations or just being around the opposite sex, and I had no idea how to talk to them! Switching schools changed that all for the better. I love my guy friends; they have made me a die-hard Lakers fan, and I appreciate them just as much as my closest girlfriends. Everyone needs a mix in their close-knit friend group.

The cattiness, hierarchy and estrogen rages became a whole other issue. The cliques and gossip were unbearable. Upon leaving my all girls school, I learned that someone there had told people I left due to a heroin addiction. I mean, WHAT IN THE WORLD?! I actually had to go down there one day, find the culprit and set the record straight. I was sent on a wild goose chase from clique to clique. When I eventually found her, she gave me a snobby and unapologetic, “Sorry, are we done here?”, swiveled on her pink Converse and strutted in the opposite direction. There was to be no cross-contamination between groups; you had to choose your friends or the queen bees would choose for you. Really, it was like Mean Girls! We had a Regina George, Gretchen Wieners, Karen Smith and, of course, a Cady Heron.

Just because we had a strict uniform, by no means did that mean there wasn’t competition wardrobe-wise. Who makes your sneakers? Purse? Jewelry? Which uniform style are YOU wearing? Anyone who was anybody carried their books in a Dylan’s Candy Bar tote, then of course the accusations would fly about who really started the trend and who was copying whom. EVERYONE had the same one! All-estrogen environments at that age thrive on gossip and making oneself seem holier-than-thou to at least a few girls.

Of course, it all really depends on the person. I reached out to some of the girls that I have remained very close with, and their opinions differ from mine quite a bit.

Olivia. My friend Olivia is as sweet as can be. She always has the best advice, no matter the topic, and was so happy that I inquired about her opinion on the subject of our education. Overall, she was happy with the all-girls experience, thinking maybe four years would have been a little better than six, but self-discovery was her biggest gain out of the school. When I asked her about it, she said, “I think the absence of boys helped me personally because I was a shy kid, so being with all girls helped me discover myself more easily and become more outgoing without the pressure of trying to impress boys.” She reiterated the fact that it all does depend on the person. There is no way to tell who any of us would have been different without having the experience. I think my view differs from my gal pals because I was able to leave and see the other side. I will always be happy they were happy there, despite my misery.

Featured image via Shutterstock

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