Women's Colleges Try New Strategies for Success

In search of revenue, they welcome adults. Some even succeed without men.

Women's Colleges Try New Strategies for Success 1

Matt Roth for The Chronicle

Brinita Ricks, a student in Wilson College's Women With Children program, hugs her 5-year-old son, Troy, and Bella Smith in the college's dining hall.

Enlarge Image
close Women's Colleges Try New Strategies for Success 1

Matt Roth for The Chronicle

Brinita Ricks, a student in Wilson College's Women With Children program, hugs her 5-year-old son, Troy, and Bella Smith in the college's dining hall.

Brinita Ricks, a Wilson College senior, is in many ways exactly the kind of student that women's liberal-arts colleges have always said they exist to serve. She's majoring in math and computing—disciplines that men have traditionally dominated—and she's president of the math club at Wilson, where all the student leaders are women. She hopes to go on and earn a graduate degree in math, maybe even a Ph.D.

But she's also a single mother from Washington who picked Wilson