"I have never seen a group of young women more sure of themselves."
Our Kids Media traveled to several all-girls' schools to chat with some of the young women about their school life and they took a few minutes out of their day to highlight the benefits of education in a single-sex learning environment. Check out the video to hear more!
Other current students and alumni also shared their experiences at an all-girls school, including how this type of environment shaped their success. Read their stories below.
Six years ago, her parents were down to two choices: a coed option or the all-girls’ environment of St. Mildred’s-Lightbourn School (which is also a Reggio Emilia and gifted school in Oakville, Ontario). And as she finished up Grade 12 as head girl at St. Mildred’s, Alexa Vogel was more than satisfied with the decision her parents ultimately made.
“Personally, I love it,” says Alexa, 18. “The girls aren’t afraid to voice their opinion, because they aren’t second guessing and thinking ‘will a guy think this?’”
Not that contact with the opposite sex is completely lacking. The school arranges mixed social events, while Alexa has several male friends from her extracurricular activities, such as travels that have included work at a hospital in Africa and a semester studying in Australia. In fact, she’s quick to suggest that outside activities for all-girls’ school students are important for getting them used to socializing in mixed environments. “If there are clubs and sports or something that a child in a single-gender school can get involved with that’s in a coed environment, I think that makes a big difference,” she says.
Ask Jacqueline Nivet how she went from student council president to helping to save the world, and she’ll point back to her education for the answer.
Nivet currently works for the United Nations World Food Programme, which comes to the rescue of millions after their darkest hours. She says that a focus on helping others was instilled in her during her years at an all-girls school, which places an emphasis on character education.
“If I had stayed at my old school, I would be a completely different person today,” she says.
The school she attended changed everything about her life, she says—her interest in school activities, her academic capabilities, her sense of belonging, her confidence in the contributions she could make, and above all, her friends, who constantly challenge and push her to be a better person.
“I know I would never have achieved even half of what I have without them or without all that the school has given me over the years,” says Nivet.
While she attended Hawthorn School for Girls (a Catholic school in Toronto, Ontario), from Grade 5 to OAC, she became student council president, as well as co-developer and co-editor of the first student publication.
“I think those two activities were most influential for my later career choices: acting as a leader, serving others and writing,” she says.
It’s been a decade since she graduated, and Nivet has travelled and lived abroad in a number of countries. Despite the distance however, her closest friends are still from her school days.
“It’s not a coincidence,” she says. “Students could really be themselves without the peer pressure we heard about in other middle and high schools.”
Nivet will always value the friendships she made at school.
“No matter what our career choices or countries we live in now, we are all still Hawthorn girls at heart,” she says. “We have so many memories and experiences that we still share.”
In an all-girls school, there is one less variable in teaching. “Research shows that girls really like a more communicative, collaborative approach to learning,” says Elizabeth Falco, head of school at The Study, in Westmount, Quebec. “As a teacher in an all-girls classroom, you can cater to that.” Confidence often blooms as a result.
“Girls change when boys are out of the picture and opportunities that might not have existed in a coed environment are suddenly available. Possibilities seem infinite. There are no limits in their imagination about what they can do.”
At Trafalgar Castle School in Whitby, Ontario, Amy, 18, agrees. There, most of the teachers and all of the students are female. “You can be more yourself instead of trying to impress the boys. You can take chances. You can try anything and not be afraid.”
“We were trying out different schools. My mom wanted me to go to an all-girls school. We came to an open house (at Trafalgar School for Girls in Montreal, Quebec), and as we were walking out, we both said, that’s the school! Because it’s so homey, you feel comfortable there.”
First impressions turned out to be accurate for Jenna, 13, who has just finished Grade 7. “I enjoy going there every day to see my friends—and the teachers. I’ve tried all different things, soccer, and I was manager of the basketball team. I was in the junior drama production and I am in the choir. Some days I get to school at 7:30 and don’t come home until 5:30. I see Mr. Dowd (principal Geoff Dowd) more than I see my parents.”
Her mother’s preference for an all-girl school? “At first I thought it would be weird because I had gone to a coed elementary school. But it’s actually nice because everyone is so comfortable, everyone can say things freely without feeling embarrassed.”
Girls school alumni include women leaders who testify about the value of single gender education in video and testimonial, including:
Research provided by the National Association for Choice in Education shows that 82 percent of recent girl’s school graduates are satisfied or extremely satisfied with the how well their schools instilled self-confidence and that 84 percent give their schools top marks for providing leadership opportunities.
St. Margaret's School (est. 1908)
St. Margaret's School (est. 1908) is an independent school in Victoria, BC, offering empowering education for girls from JK to Grade 12. At SMS, girls don't just get equal opportunity; they get every opportunity. [View profile]
|$14,180 to $65,490
|Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Boarding Day Girls||14180|
Hawthorn School (est. 1989)
Hawthorn School is an all-girls school in Toronto that offers programs from toddler to grade 12. Our unique mentoring program is tailored to each girl to help them reach their full potential. [View profile]
|$12,500 to $36,500
||Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Homestay Day Homestay Girls Coed||12500|
|$32,570 to $64,305
||Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Boarding Day Girls||32570|
Elmwood School (est. 1915)
Elmwood School is Ottawa's pre-eminent school for girls from JK to Grade 12. Our high academic standards, small class sizes and safe, supportive environment ensure that each girl is inspired to reach her full potential. [View profile]
|$13,500 to $25,660
||Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Girls||13500|
Trafalgar Castle School (est. 1874)
Located in Whitby, Trafalgar Castle School is an all-girls day and boarding school inspiring students in Grades 4-12. For nearly 150 years, Trafalgar Castle girls have become women of impact. [View profile]
|$22,545 to $59,515
||MiddleSchools HighSchools Boarding Day Girls||22545|
St. Mildred's-Lightbourn School (est. 1891)
Oakville's SMLS continues to be a premier independent school for girls Preschool to Graduating Year since 1891. "Millie" graduates take on the world with confidence and the knowledge that they can do anything. [View profile]
|$17,000 to $27,600
||Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Girls||17000|
Alpine Academy (est. 2001)
Alpine Academy isn't just a school, it is an experience that prepares young women for life beyond our campus. Students learn to engage in not only academics, but also family, community, and interpersonal relationships. [View profile]
||MiddleSchools HighSchools Boarding Girls||120000|
|$32,750 to $59,875
|Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Boarding Day Girls||32750|
Miss Edgar's & Miss Cramp's School (est. 1909)
Miss Edgar's & Miss Cramp's School is a Tier 1 school for girls in Kindergarten through Grade 11, located in Westmount, Quebec. For every girl who has a mind of her own, we have a school to nurture it. [View profile]
|$18,764 to $21,417
||Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Girls||18764|
Buffalo Seminary (est. 1851)
Independent day and boarding school for college-bound girls. Our STEAM curriculum is unique, and creative, independent thinking is valued. Located in Buffalo, NY, girls access the best of city living. [View profile]
|US $21,900 to US $52,750
||HighSchools Boarding Day Girls||21900|
London International Academy (est. 2002)
A Canadian Private Secondary Co-ed Boarding school, located in downtown London, Ontario. LIA offers academic courses from Grades 9-12 and is authorized to grant the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD). [View profile]
|$9,200 to $41,900
||HighSchools Day Boarding Boarding Coed Boys Girls||9200|
Odyssey Heights School for Girls (est. 2017)
Odyssey Heights School: starts at 9:55am with dance, yoga, or outdoor fitness; 25-35 Overnight OE3 trips are included in tuition, there's a "No Homework Ever!" policy; Equestrian curriculum, small group French, 1:1 iPads [View profile]
||MiddleSchools HighSchools Homestay Day Girls||27975|
|$6,250 to $46,700
|Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Boarding Day Coed Girls||6250|
|$16,795 to $52,814
||MiddleSchools HighSchools Boarding Day Girls||16795|
||Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Girls||29900|
|$20,140 to $22,675
||Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Girls||20140|
Holy Name of Mary College School (est. 2008)
Holy Name of Mary College School in Mississauga, is an independent Catholic school for girls in grades 5-12 offering an enriched university preparatory programme. The average class size is 12 students. [View profile]
||MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Girls||17250|
|$5,000 to $5,700
||MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Day Girls Coed||5000|
Trafalgar School For Girls (est. 1887)
Based in the heart of downtown Montreal, Trafalgar School for Girls is a diverse school community that challenges and inspires girls to love learning, build confidence and shape a better world. [View profile]
||MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Day Girls||18000|
The Bishop Strachan School (est. 1867)
Located in Toronto, The Bishop Strachan School is Canada's oldest independent JK to Grade 12 day and boarding school for girls, welcoming students from Toronto and around the world. [View profile]
|$32,060 to $60,730
|Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Boarding Girls||32060|
Joan of Arc Academy / Academie Jeanne d'Arc (est. 1954)
In our all-girls environment, academic achievement in both official languages is the norm. A Joan of Arc Academy bilingual education prepares the women leaders for the challenges of tomorrow. Come and see the difference. [View profile]
||Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Girls||15750|
The Linden School (est. 1993)
The Linden School provides a challenging academic program for girls from JK - Grade 12. We create opportunities to discover the joys of learning and foster the development of critical thinking and physical well-being. [View profile]
|$15,400 to $20,950
|Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Girls||15400|
Xyna International School (est. 2010)
Xyna International School offers programs from Gr 9 - 12 in Brampton(Co-ed) and 6-12 in Woodbridge(Girls only). At Xyna students have many opportunities to develop teamwork, communication and leadership skills. [View profile]
||MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Day Homestay Girls Coed||7000|
Pensionnat du Saint-Nom-de-Marie (est. 1905)
École secondaire francophone privée pour jeunes filles située à Outremont, Qc. Les frais de scolarité sont de 4 500 $ par année. Elle offre les profils Éducation internationale, Danse-études et Musique-études. [View profile]
|$4,500 to $10,700
||MiddleSchools HighSchools Boarding Day Girls||4500|