Impact to Enrollment: Former Women’s Colleges

Based on an analysis of self-reported institutional data available via the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) from the National Center for Education Statistics, nine schools that went coeducational between the years of 2003 and 2007 were analyzed for their enrollment trends before their change to coeducation and after. The schools include Chestnut Hill College, Harcum College, Hood College, Lesley College, Blue Mountain College, Wells College, Immaculata University, Regis College, and Randolph-Macon Women’s College. Based on the reported data, all but one saw increases in enrollment within five years of the coeducational change.

Key data points include:

  • For the five years prior to the coeducational change, the schools experienced an average enrollment decline of -6%. Five years after the change, they experienced an average enrollment increase of +31%.
  • Enrollment of women declined an average of -5% in the five years prior to the coeducational switch. Five years after the change, enrollment of women increased by an average of +13%.
  • Five years after the change, women represented 75% of the average enrollment.

Similar studies and data on women’s colleges that went coeducational are also available in the 2006 book, Challenged By Coeducation: Women’s Colleges Since the 1960s, edited by Leslie Miller-Bernal and Susan L. Poulson.  For example, Wheaton College in Massachusetts went coeducational in 1998 after facing a -21.2 % decline in enrollment from a high in 1975 (1,319 students) through a low in 1987 (1,039 students).

Based on 4-year enrollment trends from 1987 (the year prior to becoming coeducational) and 2002 (the last year reported in the book), their overall enrollment increased approximately +47% from 1,039 to 1,532.

Sources: IPEDSChallenged By Coeducation: Women’s Colleges Since the 1960s Edited by Leslie Miller-Bernal and Susan L. Poulson