When I began college this year at UCLA, something felt very strange and new. For a while, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, and then I realized “Wait! There are boys here!” Certainly, there are benefits of the co-educational school system, but there is also something very special and unique about going to an all-girls high school like Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy. People joke and tease that because I went to an all-girls school, I wouldn’t know how to talk to boys or I would be socially inept, but that isn’t the case. I think there is a time and place for everything, and during high school, on campus, you shouldn’t be worried about how your hair looks or what you’re wearing. High school is a time to grow intellectually and discover more about yourself. These things can only be done in a safe space, where you feel most comfortable to be your true self.
I can genuinely say that I have never felt as comfortable and welcome in my entire life as I did at FSHA. For one, there is something physically comforting in being able to drive up the Hill with your hair unkempt and your shoes half-off knowing that not a single soul will look you up and down with critical eyes. Everyone is free to look as she pleases, and that doesn’t necessarily mean we all walk into school looking messy or unprofessional, but simply that we aren’t afraid that we might be judged for our outer appearance. From the very beginning, we realize that what is most important is our inner character.
My experience at an all girls school is something I will cherish forever; the support, the solicitude, and the sisterhood will all stay with me forever. And I know that anytime I go back to visit, I’ll feel just as welcome.
Being surrounded by an all-girls community also pays off in the classroom. I certainly would not have been as open and unrestrained with my questions in class if I had gone to a co-ed high school. Sadly, I have already noticed the decline in my confidence to raise my hand and ask what is on my mind in college now. At FSHA, when you are surrounded by a classroom of your peers, of girls who support you and better you, with teachers who encourage your creativity and always have your best intentions in mind, there is nothing that can hold you back and nothing that can suppress your imagination. I can remember the times in English class when I had something to say about a character and thinking, “This analysis is probably really off but I’m going to give it a shot,” and being met with the nods and confirmations of my classmates remarking that they agreed with what I had to say or related to my comment. And yet at the same time, we felt comfortable disagreeing with a classmate respectfully, knowing that it wasn’t an insult to anyone’s ideas but a way of enlightening our learning process. I still remember being in physics class my senior year of high school and having a million questions and thoughts rushing through my head. Finally, I would raise my hand and sometimes start with, “This is a really dumb question but …” and our physics teacher, Mr. Buxman, would always reassure us that there is no such thing as a dumb question. I became aware that a curious mind is a brilliant mind. At FSHA, we were urged to let our imaginations grow and freely think critically.
However, the most valuable part of an all-girls education is, without a doubt, the community. FSHA was a place that felt like home to me. I formed deep, life-long friendships, I got to know so many extraordinary young women, and I had inspiring teachers that genuinely cared about my education and my future. Although I wish it was not the case, I know I would not have been as openly passionate about my education if I went to a co-ed high school. I certainly would not have felt as confident or as permitted to be myself. Thinking back to my Senior Research Project, for instance, never in a million years would I have had the confidence to give a live “TED Talk”-like presentation, as I hate speaking in front of crowds. But with the support of my advisor, Ms. Murphy, I faced my fears and accomplished something that I am very proud of. My experience at an all girls school is something I will cherish forever; the support, the solicitude, and the sisterhood will all stay with me forever. And I know that anytime I go back to visit, I’ll feel just as welcome.