Why All-Girls

The Girls' School Advantage: By The Numbers

For most families considering St. Mary’s Academy, one of the first questions that comes up is “Why should we consider an all-girls school?” It’s certainly an important question, and one that we love to answer. Simply put, St. Mary’s can offer young women an educational experience that a co-educational school cannot.

One of the primary goals of St. Mary's is to prepare young women for higher education while aiding their development as spiritual, responsible, and ethical leaders in their communities. Since 1859, St. Mary's Academy has fulfilled this mission, and we attribute much of our success to the positive influence of an all-female student body.

St. Mary’s Academy students affirm research conclusions that a single-sex environment empowers young women to excel as students and leaders. In major subject areas, our students perform above the national average, with more than 40 percent of our graduates intending to pursue math or science as their field of study in college. An average of 100 percent of St. Mary's Academy graduates attend college.

Whether from years of seeing the results in our own student body, or courtesy of the significant research data on the subject of all-girls education, we know that young women who attend all-girls schools demonstrate greater academic achievement, score higher on college admissions tests, have higher confidence in STEM subject areas, including mathematics and computer skills, and generally feel more confident and empowered.

Graduates of all-girls schools are one and a half times as likely to graduate from college with degree in math and science and twice as likely to earn doctorates. They are six times more likely to serve on the boards of Fortune 500 companies.

Recently, the National Coalition of Girls Schools conducted a comparative analysis of surveys given to nearly 13,000 students at all-girls schools, co-educational independent schools, and co-ed public schools. Significant findings included:

  • Students at all-girls schools have higher aspirations and greater motivation.
  • They are more challenged by their classes than students at other schools.
  • They are more engaged in the learning process at school.
  • They feel more comfortable being themselves and expressing their ideas.
  • They feel more supported, including receiving feedback more frequently than do students at other types of schools.

An all-girls education also removes gender bias from the learning environment. Gender bias in the classroom can inhibit young women from excelling academically; research shows that girls in co-educational classrooms tend to be shortchanged, especially in math and science. Boys often dominate discussion, monopolize teachers' time, and receive more affirming comments about their ability. At St. Mary’s Academy, girls play every role in every class and extracurricular activity, never taking a backseat to boys.

Finally, our students do in fact live social lives that include men and boys, and we have a number of male faculty and staff at SMA. The advantage of an all-girls school is not in trying to create a “bubble” for students, but to provide the best possible learning environment where our students discover just how powerful young women can be.

SMA Community Testimonials

"A St. Mary's education gives young women confidence in their abilities to handle whatever life has in store for them." — Kathy Mitchell '64, Art Teacher and Parent

"SMA, more than anything, gave me confidence. It supported me as I matured and pushed me toward higher goals. In the end, SMA gave me the foundation I needed to be as independent and self-assured as I am today." — Theresa Myers '05

"One of the advantages of all-female education is definitely all of the opportunities. Student government, clubs and other organizations are run and directed by female students." — Nicole Kemper '01

"In the TIES program students learn to work in small groups with other high school students planning activities and with younger girls teaching the activities. This program develops within our students leadership and compassion. TIES helps our students understand the need for positive female role models. Connecting with fifth grade students gives our young women the opportunity to share their knowledge and give back to the grade schools." — Maureen Daschel '77, Chemistry Teacher, TIES Adviser

"St. Mary's has provided me the opportunity to excel both athletically and academically. The support I received from my teammates embodies the caring community of the Academy." — Ashley Salvino '05