20th century

As time goes, girls have gained increased access to education. Apprenticeship and home education become less and less popular options. Instead, public schools and colleges welcomed more and more girls. With new ideas on girls’ education, girlhood also became a distinctive, separate period between childhood and adulthood with increased social publicity.

One of education’s functions in separating childhood and adulthood was extending girlhood. Although girls would still be supervised by house wardens and academic supervisors, their time spent in school, especially in colleges, has significantly prolonged the girlhood before stepping into adulthood. For many girls, the abundant academic resources that colleges offered equipped them knowledge to prepare better before stepping into the adult world. For some, entering into colleges meant delayed marital age, which, in turn, implied more independent girlhood time on their own. For example, for Dutch Afrikaner South African girls in the early 20th century, being a “college girl” promised having a carefree time to get aways with “adult responsibilities” and go for glowing college adventures.

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