The Pros And Cons Of Attending An All Girls’ School

I went to an all-girls’ Catholic school in Westchester County for four years, sixth through ninth grades. You may not know this, but there’s a whole network of boys’ and girls’ Catholic schools in Westchester, and they are Guido Ground Zero. If you’ve ever seen an episode of Jersey Shore, you’re pretty close to the kinds of kids we were dealing with. Everyone in my school was either super-Irish or super-Italian (you displayed your allegiance by pasting or drawing a flag on your backpack), and the latter far outweighed the former. Everyone wore those huge platform Sketchers, carried the bleeping Nextels and got a white BMW from their parents senior year. The dads all worked in waste management or were mysteriously missing in action (aka, in jail).

I loved it.

Here are the bad and the good things about going to a Catholic, single sex school in those delicate years before and during puberty:

Cons

1. Uniforms

There were totally mysterious, unspoken rules about how best to wear your regulation plaid skirt, opaque tights, polo shirt and sweater that were set by the popular girls that everyone else tried their best to follow.  I had no idea how they knew, but some girls showed up on the first day of sixth grade looking perfect in a way that took me years to identify: skirts just covering the ass, black tights, platform shoes, crisp white collared shirt, crew-necked cotton sweater (not too baggy!!), fake nails, long straight hair. “Everyone” wore boys’ boxer shorts under their uniform skirts, and the really cool girls wore their skirts so short the boxers peeked out underneath. Why? I couldn’t tell you. No one ever went commando under their skirts, and what’s really so offensive about seeing another girls’ panties by accident? Anyway, in sixth grade, I didn’t know about this custom. I was over at a friend’s house one day when I climbed a tree in her backyard and, thinking I was cool, swung down, exposing my boxer-less, panty-clad butt. My friend burst out laughing and told everyone the next day, so after that I was firmly in the hopeless nerd column of our class, even though I diligently made my mom buy me a few pairs of boys’ boxers and wore them every day after that.

2. Boys

They were a non-factor, except for when they were. They weren’t around at all except for at the weekly dances, which from sixth grade onward were hyper-sexualized. So the only time we learned how to interact with them is when we wanted them to think we were hot enough to grind into their little boners. As you can imagine, this caused problems later on when boys were around all the time. What, we’re supposed to actually be friends with them? Why would you talk to guys except to get them to want you? What’s the point of even interacting with them at all if not to just hook up?  When you only see guys in environments where the unspoken imperative is hook up, you’re going to do things faster and more often.

3. Catholicism

Mass many, many times a year, held in the gym and presided over by a condescending monsignor with a comically heavy Bronx accent. Mandatory religion classes taught by crusty old nuns. The embarrassment of being the Protestant girl in the row and murmuring the rest of the Lord’s Prayer under your breath at Mass (wtf, Catholics? Why do you cut off the last sentence?) or, worse, one of the few Jews, Muslims or Hindus and not knowing what to say at all. Dealing with the supreme irony of being educated by people with a historically low opinion of women’s intelligence and ability to run their own lives.

Pros

1. Uniforms

We had to wear the same thing every day, the only variation being which color polo shirt and sweater you paired, so getting ready in the morning took thirty seconds tops. I would keep my uniform at the foot of my bed, get entirely dressed under the covers, and go back to sleep until the last possible second. And because the Catholic schoolgirl’s uniform is one of the more universally flattering outfits (it forces you to cover up your problem areas and tights can obscure even the doughiest thigh), unspoken rules about coolness aside, it doesn’t much matter if you were “cool” and wore the crew neck cotton sweater or a “dork” who wore the V-neck wool sweater. Everyone looked more or less the same, and everyone looked more or less good, day in, day out, on your period or not.

2. Boys

Because we only saw them at dances, we only saw them when we felt we looked our best. So during your awkward phase, you never had to worry about that guy who looked like Nick Carter seeing you with frizzy hair or a huge zit on your nose, unless you were bad at straightening your hair and applying makeup before dances (and even if you were [I was], it was always dark in the school gym). When we were growing up and filling out, we never had to worry about anyone snapping our bra snaps. I didn’t even know that was a thing until I went off to co-ed school sophomore year, and then I was horrified. You could speak up in class and not worry about turning guys off by seeming smart—girls were always the smartest ones in the room in math class, even if it was just by default. You could do tragic things to your appearance in the name of experimentation, knowing you’d never have to worry about your crush seeing you growing out the bangs you impulsively decided to cut yourself or when your hair was two different colors from permanent hair dye. Plus: less weird competition over guys. Everyone lived in different places and people commuted to school from all over the county and even from Connecticut (one girl’s drive to school was two hours), so the chances of having guy friends in common outside of school were slim to none.

3. Catholicism

If you got hungry during one of those interminable Masses, you could always go up to get some of Christ’s Body just as a snack to tide you over, and because All Souls’ Day is a holy day of obligation, we always got the day after Halloween off school—score. And besides, what’s the fun in rebelling if there’s nothing to rebel against? TC mark

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  • http://twitter.com/nuclearcabbage Nive

    You got me at  ‘You could speak up in class and not worry about turning guys off by seeming smart-….”

    So so true….

    • http://twitter.com/galette_rois Julian Galette

      Why do girls think this? Some of the cutest girls in my school career were the ones who answered the most questions. 

      • Sophia

        I love you for this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh

    Where in Westchester? I lived there 

    • Anonymous

      yeah westchester as in Los angeles?

  • Greg

    This is completely interchangeable with the all-boys school i attended

  • ELLEGEE

    i’m going to have to guess you went to Ursuline?

  • Nicki

    I went to an all-girls high school and this stuff is so so true.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=707272007 Alex Thayer

    i went to an all guys high school.  there were lots of douche bags, but it wasn’t really that bad.

    that said, there was an all girls school right down the street, so a lot of the bro tension was cut pretty easily.

  • Anonymous

    I went to an all girls school and I definitely loved wearing uniform because I didnt have to look for an outfit everyday. its convenient.

  • ~**Sally Jenkins**~

    Kate Louis., nibblin’ the Christ body ooooooooh yeaaaaaa

  • ~**Sally Jenkins**~

    Kate Louis., nibblin’ the Christ body ooooooooh yeaaaaaa

  • Sophia

    This was insightful and interesting. Thanks for a glimpse into a world I never personally experienced.

  • Emily

    I’ve been in single-sex education since I was five, and the boy thing is SO TRUE. I barely spoke to a guy before I was twelve, and I shudder to think of what my first reaction to speaking to one probably was.

    Unfortunately my experience since then (…for I am at the mature and significant age of fifteen…)  hasn’t changed a lot. I have never had a male friend that I can be comfortable and truly myself with, probably because I feel I constantly have to flirt with boys and look good. Which I suppose is quite sad.

    • burp

      Yo Emily, I’m 21. I thank the lord for all-girls school. I went to one for FOURTEEN years. Don’t worry. By the time actually interacting with boys matters, you’ll be so cool and confident with yourself, you won’t even care and boys will love you for it.

      • Niki

        Boys are silly, why would you bother interacting with them anyway? Wait until they mature a teensy bit. :)

  • http://www.twitter.com/mexifrida Frida

    I kind of wish I had listened to my mom and gone to one.

  • itsme_eloise

    “I would keep my uniform at the foot of my bed, get entirely dressed under the covers, and go back to sleep until the last possible second.”
    I THOUGHT I WAS THE ONLY ONE??!

  • vee

    for me it’s throwing tampons/pads across the classroom if someone loudly announces that they’re out. LOL

  • Artthurpete3

    You obviously went to Ursuline or School of the Holy Child; I went to Iona Prep. I understand you. 

    • ELLEGEE

      hah i went to HC and i voted this was someone from ursuline.  glad i’m not the only one who thought so!

  • Artthurpete3

    You obviously went to Ursuline or School of the Holy Child; I went to Iona Prep. I understand you. 

  • cathy

    “Dealing with the supreme irony of being educated by people with a historically low opinion of women’s intelligence and ability to run their own lives.”
    LOLCAKES

  • http://www.facebook.com/grc15r Gregory Costa

    Pro:  Hot girl action.  

  • lia marie

    since i’ve never attended an all-girls-school i couldn’t relate to this article at all, however i clicked it just because the picture was taken from the virgin suicides. (and ended up enjoying the text)

    • http://twitter.com/angiiiiieeeeeee Angela G.

      hahahhahaha.. me too!!! lol.. 

  • Caraeve1031

    I’m going to say she definitely went to ursuline with the guidos and irish thing. I mean HC is mostly made up of the same situation but Italians and Irish not guidos. Also we didn’t have to wear tights and Ursuline does because those girls wear their skirts so short their asses show. We are much classier. Also straight hair and fake nails definitely not typical for a HC girl to have fake nails mani pedi for sure but not tips 

  • Acfui

    Stop talking smack about Ursuline… you clearly were a loser and have no idea what you are talking about. Glad you left 

  • Bealtaine

    YAY being irish and having gone to All girls catholic school.no-one kicks more old school than catholic girls!

  • Redone

    I attended a boy/girl catholic grade school, grade 1 – 8 and an all girl college prep catholic high school, freshman thru senior year.  School dances were practically orgies on an unlight senior lawn and dance floor.  Football games were the same.  No one had male friends, we all had or wanted attached boyfriends.  If you didn’t have one, you were looking for one like a shark.  Those guys who were attached, didn’t stay that way for long with all the offers, or they just learned to lie.  That didn’t change after highschool.  I went directly to private college and didn’t stop attending till I got my bachelors.  Getting a job was very hard for me and I didn’t want to teach in my field.  I feel that if you can’t get a job, you shouldn’t teach that field of study to anyone else.  Chances are, they won’t either.  I had to give up my career and just get what I could, a secretary.  I feel there is a real problem with these schools for average grade, middle-class kids from large families, who are told by nuns and lay people that condums are only 5 % effective, so they go on the pill and catch herpes or the like from theire lying partners. 

     I am now 46, stopped attending church at age 19, single, no children.  Basically, I am an old lady with dogs.  If you think I might be ugly, think again.  I still get offers.  Most can’t believe I am 46.  I don’t want to be involved as I’ve been hurt very badly because I just didn’t learn when to say no, especailly when it came to financially helping others.  I don’t date.  I don’t have many friends, never did.  I really wish I could have attended a public school and learned to interact at a young age with the oposite sex, instead of being in the same bucket as those who are obsessed with it and do anything to avoid the issues of growing up in the real world.  They seem to think they live on a seperate planet for upper middle class folks with college degree’s and money.  They only assosiate with their own.  I come from a family of five, but there are only four grandchildren.  We all have college degree’s, although mine is pointless.  Hopefully this life style will die out as less people find it appealing.   

  • Martinette

    looking for schools for my little girl. She is 4 years old and I need to decide if I am sending her to  All Girls or co-ed? what a hard choice tp make.

  • https://up848794.wordpress.com/2018/03/24/the-truth-about-going-to-an-all-girls-school/ The Truth About Going to an All-Girls School – UP848794
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