Is College Bad for Girls?


Last week, I dreamed it again! THE COLLEGE DREAM. The one where there’s a class I haven’t been attending. I didn’t drop the class officially, and so I’m going to get an F on my transcript.This  was a double feature; add on my other college dream:  I think I have a term paper due, but I’m not really sure. And I don’t do squat about it. I worry but take no action.

I LOVED college! Why can’t I dream about my favorite professors?  The library?  (Yes, I liked the library.) Hanging my posters that first day back in the dorm after summer vacation? The Richard’s Wild Irish Rose we mixed with ginger ale? The parties? The crazy conversations?

Who knows. Cliff says the dream isn’t about college anymore. It’s about something else. I’m too old. It’s been too long since college.


But in my waking hours I love to happily reflect on how college shaped me. My education.The ways I use the bits and snatches of history and literature and art in my writing today. And the bigger stuff. The reach of the mind. The curiosity of the spirit. The wanting to be your own person as you delight in the brilliance of those who have gone before.

So this framed pamphlet, on the wall of the Red Elephant Inn in North Conway, New Hampshire, made my eyes pop. All l I’ve got to say to the author, E.J. Richards, is that I did all of those things in college. Yep, every single one. SO THERE!

And to our foremothers AND forefathers who campaigned for women’s education, LISTEN UP!

I don’t blame you for my college dream. I blame that on some failing of my psyche. Instead, I thank you. Let’s shout it from every quad and dorm and student union in the nation. You let us girls dream big. You gave us big stuff to dream about. On this Fourth of July, we thank you!

Catharine Beecher

The bottom photo is Catharine Beecher, champion of women’s education and sister to Harriet Beecher Stowe. Read the tragedy of her life and the way she turned it for good.

Anxiety Dreams: Here’s an article on anxiety dreams. The article  mentions the high school locker dream, which  I still have every now and then:. I put my things in a locker and then either can’t remember which locker it is or the right locker combination.

23 thoughts on “Is College Bad for Girls?”

  1. Too funny! That unladylike card playing cracks me up.My college dream is filled with anxiety when I can’t even find the right building, never mind the room and I am late for the class.


  2. Bet E. J. Richards was a man trying to dissuade women from getting an education. Or maybe she was a stick in the mud woman! Thank goodness we’ve gotten pass those particular restrictions! I have those college dreams a couple of times a year. I’ve forgotten I’ve signed up for a class until right before the final exam – panic! : )


      1. I tried to research EJ Richards and didn’t get very far, with just the initials and a somewhat common last name. There were a few references to a Pastor EJ Richards (using initials, and given the time frame, most likely a man) and a video reading of a letter he wrote in Ann Arbor, MI in 1839, much earlier than the “Class of 1904” referenced in the image. I am puzzled that while there are numerous references to the image you used (some describe it as a magazine cover, an ad or a poster for the actual booklet), I can’t find anything else about the actual pamphlet. Could it be a hoax? The “condition issues” – yellowed paper and brown stains certainly look real.


  3. My dreams are usually theater related…I have been doing theater since I was 11, community, university then back to community…took a five year break and have had a recurring theater-related dream/nightmare/complicated long-running marathon since…they are so vivid that I often remember them when I wake up. Whew! I have, in the past, had the occasional showing up for a class I didn’t know I had for an exam I didn’t know I had with no pencils or pens or paper…you know, normal stuff…


      1. I was part of a group for years until we moved to Maine 4+ years ago…am just now involved with a new group doing Jesus Christ Superstar in summer theater. By the way, I did Dixie Swim Club with my old group…played Sheree!


  4. Boy, I laughed out loud at this post! Hysterical. I have had those college dreams multiple times!!! Usually it’s a history class that I am enrolled in and don’t show up to the class for most of the semester. And when it’s time for finals, I start worrying about the F that I will get. I thought I was the only one who had these weird anxiety dreams!!! Funny.


      1. I think I know why! Failing exams is a fait accompli. Done. Failed. Nothing more to worry about. The not showing up dream is worse — wondering about anticipating the failing…is more anxiety provoking. Our minds (or mine at least – I speak for myself) habitually cycle into worry mode…


  5. I Cliff is right. It’s not about College. College is just the scenery. It’s about our anxieties, which exist at all ages. Did you turn the light out, turn the AC off,lock ,the door? Did you remember to bring the ID that you needed? Sweet dreams. Mine are not nightmares, but I am always happy to wake up and say,”That’s one thing I don’t have to worry about.”


  6. I agree with Cliff. I think anxiety dreams reflect current anxieties through the mechanism of past anxiety-producing experiences. So since I taught for 36 years, lack of preparation in the present manifests itself as dreams with lack of a lesson plan, an extremely disruptive class, not enough chairs, extra class time with no activities for students, inability to read what’s in the plan or textbook, etc. It’s a huge relief to wake up from those dreams! This Spring I took a weekly non-credit Genealogy course for “fun.” I had to miss the first class due to previously arranged travel. The “homework” to prepare for the second session was to record as much as possible about ourselves (65 item questionnaire to complete), siblings, and ancestors, label all old photographs, locate and identify documents and certificates, and start recording our family tree on paper or on computer! Suffice it to say, I was “behind” on the assignments throughout the entire 8 week course, and had anxiety dreams.


  7. It’s such a relief to hear that my recurring dream of returning to college is so common. My variation is that all my roommates are already moved in and classes have started, and I don’t even know my schedule yet. So I am late and lost trying to find the right building to get my schedule and then trying to find my (already in progress) classes. I have a similar one where I find out that I’m not done with grad school yet, and for years I have been telling people I am. Maybe I have an impostor syndrome!


  8. I can’t believe this post. It is so incredibly eye-opening to me. I thought I was the only one.

    Since high school, I have had the dream that I couldn’t find a class that I was supposed to be in (usually math or some hard science) and struggling to locate its location among the barren hallways after the “bell” rang, I was alone to try and find my classroom.

    And, this dream would go on to college as well. But, it then seemed centered upon a high school “failure” to find the classrooms I was supposed to be in. In fact, in one dream I never attended any classes in advanced math (or was it science), and was awaiting my grade. Did the teacher notice I was never there? And, then, this extended in theme to my “dream-envisioned” college classes as well.

    Thanks for this most interesting post, and an enlightening one, as well. I wonder what all the commonality in our experiences as women may mean? I am always, and first and foremost, a scientist, so I shall begin to try to find out!


  9. Lockers are a huge source of apprehension and anxiety for many 5th and 6th graders, who typically worry about transitioning from an unlocked locker with his/her name labeled, to a combination locked – locker. (Or, depending on the school and locker size, about being stuffed in a locker.) If I had a dollar for every student I taught to open a combination lock…. One of our clever feeder schools had a box of combination locks for fifth graders to practice on. I’ve never had this dream – our family hardware business was full of locks, key-cutting, and combinations.


    1. That is a neat idea–lock practice. I stopped having my high school locker dream at about age 45. Mine often involved my gym locker. My clothes are in a locker but I cannot figure out which one!


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