When I first heard about Peace College it was during college night at my high school. I wandered around picking up brochures and talking briefly to the various representatives. Before that I hadn’t really thought much about attending an all-women’s college, and I can’t say I was totally sold on the idea at the time.
Having attended co-ed public schools my entire life to that point and given the cliquey nature of the girls I had known, imagining them all in one place was at first unnerving. My only other references for imagination fodder for an all-women’s college came from movies that always depicted the girls chomping at the bit to go where the boys were and my time spent as a member of the International Order of Job’s Daughters. It left me with this mixed idea of being forced to demonstrate proper lady-like behavior while silently going crazy to be free and have the fun that would be denied me if I attended a convent-like educational institute.
It was largely due to the persistent, tenacious nature of the Peace College recruiter that cultivated my initial disinterest into a real desire. After multiple letters, phone calls, and meet-and-greets with students and faculty, I agreed to apply and was accepted. What I found in my first year at Peace changed everything about my perspective on being a woman and my future.
Due to the fact that I wasn’t rolling in dough, and even with financial aid, I struggled to meet tuition costs, and made the decision to return home to Jacksonville, NC to attend community college while I figured out what I could afford to do about my education. Being back in a co-ed environment I found myself reminded of all the things that had made high school unpleasant. The sense of community I had experienced at Peace degenerated back into a cliquey drama that had very little to do with academic improvement and seemed exasperated by having the opposite-sex in such large interactive numbers.
It wasn’t that I hated men–I actually met the man I am still married to during that time–but while attending a co-ed college I felt there was one too many factors in the challenge of attaining my academic goals. When it came time for me to decide which college or university to transfer to for the pursuit of an undergraduate degree one of the major factors for me became the desire to minimize the male factor as I felt it had an adverse effect on my ability to focus on academics.
Given my knowledge as a psychology major and my 10 years of experience in the mental health field working with single-sexed groups of each gender I can tell you that when it comes to who we are it is more a collection of factors rather than just one cause leading to the final effect. It is dangerous to generalize because it tends to lead to stereotypes, prejudices, and limits growth. However, attending Peace had a profound effect on me primarily because it was an all-women’s institute, and helped me strengthen my personal foundation as a woman. Peace becoming a co-ed university may not be the end of the world, and may indeed offer a new, rewarding academic experience to future generations, however, it does mark the end of something, which is sadly too intangible to adequately demonstrate as being of value and worthy of preservation.