A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

A Closer Look At Women's Colleges, July 1999

Chapter 2

Who Attends a Women's College Today
and Why She Should:
An Exploration of Women's College
Students and Alumnae


Emily A. Langdon
St. Norbert College

Introduction

Historically, women's colleges have provided women access to an American higher education system that had mostly excluded them from serious study. At one point in American history there were over 300 women's colleges, today there are approximately 80.[1] In recent decades, the majority of these women's colleges succumbed to coeducation or closure, due to increasing costs and decreasing student populations.[2] Once coeducation became widely accepted in higher education, some argued that single-sex institutions were anachronistic and unnatural. Yet those women's colleges which have survived the setbacks of the 1960s and 1970s have recently enjoyed surging enrollments and a renewal of their missions in the 1980s and 1990s.

In recent decades, there has been a steady interest in women's colleges among empirical researchers in the education community. Single-sex institutions and their graduates have been the topic of much research from which few solid conclusions have been drawn. Beginning with the ground-breaking studies of women's college alumnae achievement by M. Elizabeth Tidball in the 1970s,[3] researchers have tried to identify what about these institutions makes them so special. Some researchers have raised concerns about the notion that women's colleges actually produce differential outcomes.

One way findings on women's colleges have been challenged has been through questioning the methodology behind Tidball's research.[4] In the early 1970s, Tidball published her initial and now classic study[5] which involved identifying the baccalaureate origins of women who appeared in Who's Who in America. Her main findings showed that women's college alumnae were more likely to be women "achievers," meaning women who had achieved professional success in order to be recognized by Who's Who, and that there was a positive relationship between women achievers and the percentage of women on the faculty. Tidball concluded that women's colleges produced more women achievers than coeducational institutions, although her initial emphasis was the proportion of women role models, not the women's college environment.

Tidball's work is widely cited yet the results have been repeatedly challenged. The research has been critiqued for its interpretation of a correlation between women achievers and women faculty members as a cause and effect relationship.[6] Others suggest that the findings were not valid since the selective "Seven Sisters" were compared to coeducational institutions of lower selectivity[7] or that institutional selectivity, as well as students' background characteristics, were not controlled.[8]

To address the issue of selectivity in Tidball's work, Oates and Williamson[9] recreated the "women achievers" research using Who's Who in America but created three comparison groups. The Seven Sisters were treated as a separate group so that the remaining women's colleges were compared to a sample of women from small, coeducational institutions. Oates and Williamson reported that the selective institutions supported Tidball's claims of higher production of women achievers, but the less selective women's colleges were not found to produce women achievers in any greater numbers than their lesser selective coeducational peers. These findings suggested that "achiever" status could be derived more from a student's high socioeconomic background than from attendance at a women's college.

Rice & Hemming[10] reexamined Tidball's 1973 research by trying to reproduce her results with a more current sample of Who's Who in America lists. Their findings substantiate Tidball's study for the 1940s and 1950s but do not hold for the 1960s and 1970s. The demographics of women's colleges changed dramatically in the decades of the 1960s and 70s, which may explain the findings. However, none of the researchers controlled for students' background characteristics.[11]

Despite the initial criticism and mixed results, more recent researchers have continued to explore the educational outcomes of women's colleges. After controlling for a variety of background characteristics, including socioeconomic status and institutional selectivity, Astin[12] found that women's colleges had positive effects on overall academic development, cultural awareness, writing skills, critical thinking ability, and foreign language skills. In his longitudinal study of the impact of college on students, Astin[13] found that women's colleges had positive effects on baccalaureate completion as well as many satisfaction measures. Women college alumnae were more satisfied with the faculty, with academic requirements, with individual support services, and with the overall quality of instruction than women who had attended coeducational institutions.

Smith[14] also studied a cohort of students who entered college in 1982, reporting that 65 percent of women's college students earned baccalaureate degrees, compared to 50 percent of their women peers at coeducational institutions. Her further findings suggested that women's college alumnae were more satisfied with their college experiences, with the notable exception of social life.

Research comparing the educational outcomes of women's colleges to coeducational colleges found that the women's college cohort reported higher self-esteem and held more positive perspectives on the issue of equity in sex roles;[15] had more positive relationships with faculty members and more positive interaction with peers, which encouraged academic work;[16] and came from higher socioeconomic backgrounds.[17] When the students' perspectives of their institutions were examined,[18] it was reported that women's college respondents were more likely to perceive that their college was student-oriented, was committed to multicultural issues and encouraged civic involvement. Thus, differences between women's college graduates and graduates of coeducational institutions have been well documented[19] but the persistence of those differences after the college years has been questioned.[20]

The history of this research provides the rationale for a study that explores why women choose to attend women's colleges today, with a focus on the socioeconomic backgrounds of women who choose to attend women's colleges. Additionally, there has been a need to compare the satisfaction of women's college alumnae to their female peers at similar but coeducational colleges in an attempt to identify whether initial differences in educational outcomes persist beyond graduation.

Research Questions and Data Sets

Specifically, this study will attempt to answer the following research questions:

This study used two separate sets of data collected by the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) at the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles. The first two research questions were addressed with one of these sets of data, a national data set of women students who entered college in 1997. Each fall, the Student Information Form (SIF) is used to survey thousands of college freshmen. The instrument contains a variety of questions including students' background characteristics, academic plans, activities in high school, reasons for attending college, and opinions about current issues and life goals. These descriptive data were used to compare women who entered women's colleges in 1997 to those who entered private, coeducational colleges. This data set includes 4,997 respondents representing 28 women's colleges.[21] The comparison sample includes 29,450 respondents from private, four-year, coeducational colleges.

For the final research question addressing the persistence of alumnae satisfaction, a second longitudinal data set was used studying a cohort of women's college alumnae and their peers at coeducational institutions. This second sample included first time, first-year students who completed an initial survey upon entrance into college in 1985, completed a senior year follow-up survey in 1989 and five years after the senior year survey, completed a follow-up questionnaire in 1994. In the sample, the 508 women's college respondents were directly matched with the coeducational college respondents. For every alumna of a women's college in the data set, an alumna from a private, four-year, coeducational college of similar selectivity and geographic region was selected for a total of 508 women within each institutional type.

Satisfaction ratings on a variety of educational experiences were reported in 1989. Then five years later, the alumnae reported their satisfaction with their undergraduate education, albeit in a more general fashion. The respondents were asked about their willingness to re-enroll in their undergraduate institution, which served as a proxy for a satisfaction measure.

Frequencies and descriptive statistics provided a profile of the current students who selected single-sex undergraduate institutions. The longitudinal data set also provided frequencies to examine the persistence in satisfaction with college. T-tests were calculated to determine whether the differences in the two groups were statistically significant.

Socioeconomic Status of Women at Women's Colleges

Analysis of this CIRP data reveals a stark contrast to the conventional wisdom that women's college graduates are successful because of their socioeconomic backgrounds.[22] Socioeconomic status is traditionally measured by a combination of the income and education level of one or both parents. As presented in table 2-1, more women's college respondents reported their annual family income in the lowest bracket whereas more coeducational college respondents reported their family income in the middle and upper brackets. These differences were slight but statistically significant, suggesting that women's college students today come from lower income families.

The educational achievement of the respondents' parents is consistent with the family income findings. More women's college respondents than coeducational college respondents reported that their mothers did not complete high school. This pattern holds for the education levels of the fathers. More women's college respondents reported that their fathers did not complete high school.

Table 2-1— Socioeconomic Status Indicators

  Women's College
(percentages)
Coed College
(percentages)
Difference

Parental Income
Below $20,000 11.0 8.4 2.6*
$20,000 to 39,000 18.8 17.6 1.2
$40,000 to 59,000 19.3 21.2 1.9*
$60,000 to 99,000 24.9 26.2 1.3
$100,000 and above 25.9 26.6 0.7
Mother's Education
No High School Degree 5.5 4.4 1.1*
High School Degree 40.1 42.6 2.5*
College Degree 33.0 33.1 0.1
Graduate Degree 21.4 20.0 1.4
Father's Education
No High School Degree 6.7 5.6 1.1*
High School Degree 33.7 34.9 1.2
College Degree 29.2 30.1 0.9
Graduate Degree 30.4 29.5 0.9

Note:*p<.01.
Source: Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP), Higher Education Research Institute, UCLA.

Although more women's college respondents also reported that their parents were more likely to obtain graduate degrees, those results were not statistically significant.

Frequently, the career of one or both parent is used in determining socioeconomic status. Table 2-2 presents the data on parents' careers for both women's college and coeducational college respondents. More women's college respondents reported mothers involved in business careers, whereas more coeducational college respondents reported mothers who were elementary school teachers or full-time homemakers. This pattern is interesting. The mothers of coeducational college respondents were more likely to have careers in the traditional area of elementary education or to be homemakers, whereas the mother's of women's college respondents were more likely to have careers in the business arena. Perhaps having mothers with a less traditional career-orientation was influential in these women choosing to attend a women's college in 1997.

More coeducational college respondents reported fathers in business careers. This might be related to the higher parental income reported by the coeducational college respondents. Other than the difference in the business careers, the two groups reported similar career experiences for their fathers.

Table 2-2— Parents' careers

  Women's College
(percentages)
Coed College
(percentages)
Difference

Mother's Career
Business 15.1 13.5 1.6*
Cerical 6.5 7.0 0.5
Education (secondary) 5.6 5.6 0.0
Education (primary) 8.7 11.4 2.7*
Homemaker (full-time) 12.5 13.5 1.0
Nurse 8.2 8.1 0.1
Unemployed 4.9 4.0 0.9
Father's Career
Business 28.9 31.2 2.3*
Doctor 5.1 4.6 0.5
Education (secondary) 3.2 3.7 0.5
Engineer 6.7 7.1 0.4
Lawyer 4.0 4.0 0.0
Skilled worker 7.4 6.5 0.9
Unemployed 2.7 2.3 0.4

Note:*p<.01.
Source: Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP), Higher Education Research Institute, UCLA.

Overall, there were slight differences in the socioeconomic status indicators of these college students. The parents of the women's college respondents were less likely to finish high school and their family incomes were more likely to fall in the lowest bracket. These indicators combine to suggest that students entering women's colleges in 1997 came from families of lower socioeconomic status. The one difference in the fathers' careers substantiate this assertion. However, the mothers' careers produced an interesting pattern, suggesting that mothers of women's college students held less traditional careers whereas the mothers of coeducational college respondents held more traditional careers.

The majority of the differences between the socioeconomic indicators were not statistically significant, nor were they different in a practical sense. This perhaps suggests that these students' backgrounds were more alike than different. Since socioeconomic status is frequently used to explain reasons for attending college as well as selecting colleges, it is important to examine what other reasons may exist for choosing to attend a women's college.

Why Do Women Attend Women's Colleges?

Entering freshmen were asked on the SIF to rate how important the following reasons were in their decision to attend college, choosing from "very important" to "somewhat important" or "not important." The reasons given as "very important" for attending college are reported in table 2-3. Again, many of the responses between the two groups were similar however, the differences are worth exploring. Women who selected women's colleges reported that becoming cultured and proving to others that they could succeed were important reasons for attending college. Also, women's college respondents were more likely than their coeducational college peers to report parental, mentor, or role model influence and encouragement as very important in their reasons for attending college.

Table 2-3 — Very important reasons for attending college

  Women's College
(percentages)
Coed College
(percentages)
Difference

To learn more about things 84.0 82.6 1.4
To gain a general education 73.8 73.8 0.0
To get a better job 68.5 67.7 0.8
To make more money 58.5 57.7 0.8
To become a cultured person 55.3 50.7 4.6*
To improve reading and study skills 46.8 45.6 1.2
Parents wanted me to go 36.4 33.7 2.7*
To prove to others I could succeed 34.5 31.0 3.5*
Wanted to get away from home 20.0 18.8 1.2
Role model/mentor encouraged me 16.7 13.6 3.1*

Note:*p<.01.
Source: Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP), Higher Education Research Institute, UCLA.

The SIF also asked entering freshmen to rate how important the following reasons were in selecting their particular undergraduate institution. The reasons given as "very important" are reported in table 2-4. Current women's college students reported that they were more likely to select their undergraduate institution based on a perception that alumnae received good jobs and attended top graduate schools. Additionally, women's college respondents were more likely than coeducational college respondents to cite their college's academic reputation as very important in their decision to attend that institution. Current coeducational college respondents were more likely than women's college respondents to offer social reputation and religious affiliation of the institution as very important reasons in their college choice process. Women who selected coeducational colleges also reported being recruited by an athletic department in greater numbers than their peers at women's colleges.

Table 2-4 — Very important reasons for selecting undergraduate institution

  Women's College
(percentages)
Coed College
(percentages)
Difference

Good academic reputation 76.9 72.8 4.1*
Graduates get good jobs 68.9 62.1 6.8*
Size of college 61.3 60.6 0.7
Graduates go to top graduate schools 52.2 44.6 7.6*
Good social reputation 23.1 28.9 5.8*
Wanted to live near home 19.2 16.6 2.6*
Rankings in national magazines 10.8 14.0 3.2*
Relatives wanted me to come 9.9 7.3 2.6*
Religious affiliation of institution 9.2 13.6 4.4*
College representative recruited me 6.7 5.0 1.7*
Teacher advised me 5.1 3.7 1.4*
Athletic department recruited me 3.2 7.1 3.9*

Note:*p<.01.
Source: Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP), Higher Education Research Institute, UCLA.

These data offered a picture of current college students who are attending private colleges and suggested some of the differences between the women who attend single-sex colleges and those who attend coeducational colleges. The two groups of women were more alike than different in many of the socioeconomic status indicators, yet their reasons for attending college and for selecting their respective undergraduate institutions differed significantly.

Student Satisfaction at Women's Colleges

The second data set provides longitudinal information about the satisfaction levels women's college alumnae report, both upon graduation and again five years later. These women, who entered college in 1985, rated their satisfaction in 1989 with many aspects of their college experience. The women's college alumnae's responses are compared to the coeducational college alumnae's responses in table 2-5. Experiences were rated on a scale from "very satisfied," to "somewhat satisfied," and "not satisfied." The women's college respondents reported statistically significantly higher in every area with the exception of social life, which is consistent with other research on women's college satisfaction.[23]

Table 2-5 — College experiences with which respondents were very satisfied in 1989

  Women's College
(N=508)
Coed College
(N=508)
Difference

Opportunity to talk with professors 69.9 51.4 18.5***
Courses in major field 60.0 46.9 13.7**
Overall quality of instruction 55.5 29.5 26.0***
Contact with faculty/administration 53.9 29.9 24.0***
Relations with faculty/administration 52.6 29.1 23.5***
Overall college experience 51.4 39.0 12.4**
Student Housing 36.6 13.0 23.6***
Library Facilities 33.1 16.7 16.4***
Academic advising 28.7 15.6 13.1***
Computer facilities 28.7 17.9 10.8***
Academic tutoring/assistance 24.0 11.8 12.2***
Athletic department recruited me 3.2 7.1 3.9*
Lab facilities and equipment 20.9 11.4 9.5***

Note:*p<.05., **p<.01,   ***p<.001
Source: Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP), Higher Education Research Institute, UCLA.

The largest discrepancies will be addressed. Higher percentages of women's college alumnae reported being very satisfied with: the overall quality of instruction, student contact with faculty and administration, relations between faculty and administration, and opportunities to talk with faculty. The pattern reflected women's college alumnae as more satisfied with faculty members' competency and availability. Other patterns suggest women's college respondents were also more satisfied with campus facilities (student housing, library, computer facilities and labs) as well as academically-oriented variables: courses in major field, academic advising, and academic assistance.

The longitudinal data set includes survey information collected five years after graduation. In 1994, the respondents were asked: if you had it to do all over again, would you re-enroll in your same undergraduate institution? This item was used as a proxy for a satisfaction measure. The results of this question are reported in table 2-6. Of the coeducational college alumnae, only 39 percent responded that they could definitely re-enroll, as compared to 52 percent of the women's college alumnae. This large discrepancy was statistically significant at the most stringent level (p<.001).

Table 2-6 — Re-enrolling in undergraduate institution in 1994
(in percentages)

  Women's College
(N=506)
Coed College
(N=499)
Difference

Definitely 52.2 38.7 13.5***
Probably 36.7 29.4 7.3
Don't know 2.0 1.4 0.6
Probably Not 10.5 15.6 -5.1
Definitely Not 6.5 7.0 -0.5

Note:*p<.05, **p<.01, ***p<.001.
Source: Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP), Higher Education Research Institute, UCLA.

This suggests that the higher satisfaction results reported in 1989 persist after the excitement of graduation is over. Five years later, women who attended women's colleges but are now employed in a coeducational work force or attending coeducational graduate schools reported that they supported their decision to attend a women's college and would in fact do it again. This sheds doubt on the criticism that women's colleges do not prepare women to function in the "real coeducational world."

Conclusion

This study compared women's college respondents to coeducational college respondents to provide a profile of the current students who selected single-sex undergraduate institutions. Regarding the socioeconomic status indicators, the women who entered women's colleges in 1997 tended to come from families with lower incomes. However, the women's college respondents were more likely to have mothers in business careers, whereas the coeducational college respondents were more likely to have mothers with more traditional careers, such as elementary school teacher and homemaker.

Additionally, the women's colleges respondents differed from the coeducational college respondents both in their reasons for attending college in general and their reasons for selecting their particular undergraduate college. Women's college respondents were more likely to report that becoming cultured and proving to others that they could succeed were important reasons for attending college. Also, they were more likely than their coeducational college peers to report that parents, mentors, or role models were influential in their college choice.

The longitudinal data set also provided frequencies to examine the persistence in satisfaction with college. At the time of their graduation, the women's college alumnae were more likely to report satisfaction with their educational experiences, except social life. Additionally, when asked five years after graduation whether they would re-enroll in their same undergraduate college, the women's college alumnae were more likely to respond in the affirmative. This suggests that the satisfaction measured directly after the college experience persisted more so for the women's college alumnae than for the coeducational college alumnae.


References

Astin, A. W. 1977. Four Critical Years. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Astin. A. W. 1993. What Matters in College? Four Critical Years Revisited. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Gose, B. 1995. "Second Thoughts at Women's Colleges," The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Kim, M. 1995. "Organizational Effectiveness of Women-only Colleges: The Impact of College Environment on Intellectual and Ethical Development." Unpublished doctoral dissertation. University of California, Los Angeles, CA.

Kim, M. and Alvarez, R. November/December 1995. "Women-only Colleges: Some Unanticipated Consequences." Journal of Higher Education. 66 (6).

Lentz, L. P. 1980. "The College Choice of Career-salient Women: Coeducational or Women's?" Journal of Educational Equity and Leadership. 1(1), pp. 23-25.

Miller-Bernal, L. 1989. "College Experiences and Sex-Role Attitudes: Does a Women's College Make A Difference?" Youth and Society. 20 (4), pp. 363-387.

Oates, M. J. and Williamson, S. 1978. "Women's Colleges and Women Achievers." Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society. 3(4), pp. 795-806.

Rice, J. K. and Hemmings, A. 1988. "Women's Colleges and Women Achievers: An Update." Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society. 13(3).

Riordan, C. July/August 1994. "The Value of Attending a Women's College: Education, Occupation and Income Benefits." Journal of Higher Education. 65, pp. 486-510.

Riordan, C. Spring 1992. "Single-and Mixed-gender Colleges for Women: Educational, Attitudinal, and Occupational Outcomes." Review of Higher Education. 15, pp. 327- 346.

Sharp, M. K. 1979. "Women's Colleges: Equity and Optimum." College Board Review. (3), pp. 111-118.

Slater, R. B. 1995. "Women's Quest to Scale the Ivory Tower." Monthly Forum on Women in Higher Education. 1(1), pp. 13-20.

Smith, D. G. March/April 1990. "Women's Colleges and Coed Colleges: Is There a Difference for Women?" Journal of Higher Education. 61, pp. 181-197.

Smith, D., Wolf, L. E.; and Morrison, D. E. May/June 1995. "Paths to Success: Factors Related to the Impact of Women's Colleges." Journal of Higher Education. 66 (3) pp. 245-266.

Stoecker, J. and Pascarella, E. T. July/August 1991. "Women's Colleges and Women's Career Attainments Revisited." Journal of Higher Education. 62(4), pp. 394-405.

Tidball, M. E. Spring 1973. "Perspectives on Academic Women and Affirmative Action." Educational Record. 54, pp. 130-135.

Tidball, M. E. May 1974. "The Search for Talented Women." Change. 6, pp. 51-52, 64.

Tidball, M. E. May 1975. "Women on Campus - and You." Liberal Education. 61, pp. 285- 292.

Tidball, M. E. 1980. "Women's Colleges and Women Achievers Revisited." Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society. 5(3), pp. 504-517.

Tidball, M. E. and Kistiakowsky, V. 1976. "Baccalaureate Origins of American Scientists and Scholars." Science. 193, pp. 646-652.


Notes

1 R. B. Slater, "Women's Quest to Scale the Ivory Tower," Monthly Forum on Women in Higher Education 1 (January 1995).

2 Marcia K. Sharp, "Women's Colleges: Equity and Optimum," College Board Review (3), 1979.

3 M. Elizabeth Tidball, "Perspectives on Academic Women and Affirmative Action," Educational Record, 54(2) 1973.

4 Mary J. Oates and Susan Williamson, "Women's Colleges and Women Achievers," Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 3 (4) 1978.

5 Tidball, 1973.

6 Linda P. Lentz, "The College Choice of Career-salient Women: Coeducational or Women's?" Journal of Educational Equity and Leadership, 1(1) 1980.

7 B. Gose, "Second Thoughts at Women's Colleges," The Chronicle of Higher Education, 1995.

8 Oates and Williamson, 1978.

9 Ibid., 1978.

10 Joyce K. Rice and Alice Hemmings, "Women's Colleges and Women Achievers: An Update." Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 13(3) 1988.

11 Mikyong Kim and Rodolfo Alvarez, "Women-only Colleges: Some Unanticipated Consequences." Journal of Higher Education, 66, Nov/Dec 1995.

12 Alexander W. Astin, What Matters in College? Four Critical Years Revisited. (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1993).

13 Ibid., 1993.

14 Daryl G. Smith, "Women's Colleges and Coed Colleges: Is There a Difference for Women?" Journal of Higher Education, 61, March/April 1990.

15 Cornelius Riordan, "Single- and Mixed-gender Colleges for Women: Educational, Attitudinal, and Occupational Outcomes." Review of Higher Education, 15(3) 1992.

16 Leslie Miller-Bernal, "College Experiences and Sex-role Attitudes: Does a Women's College Make a Difference?" Youth and Society, 20, 1989.

17 Daryl G. Smith, Lisa E. Wolf and Diane E. Morrison, "Paths to Success: Factors Related to the Impact of Women's Colleges. Journal of Higher Education, 66, May/June 1995.

18 Ibid.

19 Astin, 1993; Smith, 1990; Smith, Wolf & Morrison, 1995; Riordan, 1992.

20 Judith L. Stoecker and Ernest T. Pascarella, "Women's Colleges and Women's Career Attainment Revisited." Journal of Higher Education, 62, July/August 1991.

21 Women's Colleges included in Sample (by State): Mills College, CA; Scripps College, CA; St. Joseph College, CT; Brenau College, GA; Wesleyan College, GA; St. Mary's College, IN; Hood College, MD; College of Our Lady of the Elms College, MA; Pine Manor College, MA; Regis College, MA; Wellesley College, MA; College of St. Catherine, MN; College of St. Elizabeth, NJ; Barnard College, NY; Russell Sage College, NY; Wells College, NY; Meredith College, NC; Notre Dame College, OH; Bryn Mawr College, PA; Cedar Crest College, PA; Immaculata College, PA; Marywood College, PA; Carlow College, PA; Rosemont College, PA; Wilson College, PA; Hollins College, VA; Randolph-Macon Woman's College, VA; Sweet Briar College, VA.

22 There are some limitations to this study. These questions were asked at vulnerable times in students' lives: the beginning of their college career and the conclusion of their college career/beginning of their post-college life. This may bring up questions as to the validity of the measures, however, self-reports are usually considered reliable (Astin, 1993.) The 1997 CIRP data set created some challenges. Although the sample sizes were large, they were also disproportionate. There were almost six times more women attending coeducational college in the 1997 data. In the longitudinal sample, the women's college respondents were directly matched with the coeducational college respondents. For every women's college alumna, an alumna from a coeducational college of similar selectivity and geographic region was selected. This was not the case for the 1997 data set where the women's college respondents were compared to peers at non-sectarian and Catholic coeducational colleges. These institutional types were selected since most of the women's colleges in the sample fit into these two categories. However, even the limited sample of coeducational college women was much larger than the women's college sample. Percentages were reported to facilitate comparisons between the difference samples and the statistical analysis of the differences accounted for sample size as a determinant of significance.

23 Alexander W. Astin, Four Critical Years. (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1977).


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[Chapter 1 - What Is This Thing Called Institutional Productivity?] [Table of Contents] [Chapter 3 - Research Issues on Women's Colleges]