Anne Clagette

Why did you decide do go to college? 

That’s what grads of McLean H/S did–apply to college. With the number of mediocre colleges in Virginia at that time, just about anyone from McLean could get accepted by at least one Virginia college. BTW, there were a fair number of state-supported women’s colleges in Virginia back then. I assume most of them went co-ed in the 1970s. I had no idea what I wanted to do in the real world, so college was an easy way “out,” at least for another 4 years. I had two girlfriends in h/s who did not go to college right off, but both went to a prestigious secretarial school, Washington School for Secretaries (WSS). I’ve lost touch with one, but the other ended up with vastly more education than I. The lady is an attorney specializing in appellant cases.

Was it difficult financially or socially (did people look down on women going to college?)

I wasn’t aware of anyone in Northern Virginia looking down on women going to college, and I have no memory of America-at-large looking down on such women. Well, maybe the Fredericksburg townies looked down on us as being a bunch of spoiled girls. (F’burg was still pretty provincial in the 1960s.)  Re finances: My father let me know in no uncertain terms that he would pay only for a state-supported Virginia college. He claimed he had to give up his membership in a local golf club to pay for my college education–tuition, room and board, and allowance which was $25 a month. My mother just rolled her eyes whenever he brought that up. Nevertheless, I was very fortunate compared to some of the other girls at MWC.

What did you want to get out of it?

If memory serves, I had no idea what I wanted to get out of college education. I sort of lived one day at a time. As Scarlet O’Hara said at the end of Gone with the Wind, “I’ll think of it tomorrow,… After all, tomorrow is another day.” For me, “tomorrow” came a few months in to my senior year. BTW, Rhett Butler did NOT have the last word in the novel or movie. It was Scarlet with the above-mentioned line.

What kind of career options were available for someone who went to college vs. someone who did not.

Teaching; all sorts of state and federal government jobs or within large corporations, depending on one’s major. Remember, back then, just as today, majority of women majored in the soft sciences, so options were limited, even with a college education. Also, as I understood the philosophy of liberal arts colleges in those days, liberal arts education was not meant to prepare one for a career, but rather meant to prepare one for Life. I don’t know how many times I heard, “Educate a man and you educate one person. Educate a women and you educate an entire family.” (Or, something along those lines.)