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Colleges across America are dealing with a major enrollment issue, and there appears to be no quick fix. Fewer men are attending colleges and universities than ever before, creating an education gap between men and women that’s been widening for years. A combination of a perceived lack of value, costs and limited resources have men closing the book on higher education.
For 2020-21, women made up 59.5% of college students, an all-time high, men 40.5%. After 6 years of college, 65% of women received diplomas by 2018 vs. 59% of men. Pandemic: 700,000 fewer students enrolled in spring 2021 vs. 2019, with 78% fewer men.https://t.co/Af97ELYGfL
— Robert E Hall (@RobertEHall1) September 6, 2021
The Wall Street Journal cited data from the National Student Clearinghouse showing that women made up 59.5% of college students during the 2020-21 school year, an all-time high, and men 40.5%. Overall, colleges and universities across the United States saw a decline of 1.5 million students compared with just five years ago. Male students accounted for 71% of the decline.
Douglas Shapiro of the National Student Clearinghouse said that two women will earn a college degree for every one man, if the declining male enrollment trend continues.
But why are men shunning college? There is no single reason. There are lots of reasons, with plenty of overlap. Colleen Coffey, executive director of the College Planning Collaborative at Framingham State University told the Wall Street Journal that many males quit school during the pandemic and opted to work in order to help provide support to families who had suddenly lost income: “The guys felt they needed to step in quickly.”
Growing tuition costs were another concern, per a WSJ interview with former student Jack Bartholomew: “[F]or now, it is too big a struggle, financially and academically.”
More than a decade ago, Keith E. Smith, a mental health counselor and men’s outreach coordinator at the University of Vermont, proposed the idea of a men’s center aimed at helping male students succeed. According to the Wall Street Journal, Smith said he received plenty of criticism for the suggestion: “Why would you give more resources to the most privileged group on campus?”
The men’s center was never built.
There are however, more than 500 women’s centers on college campuses across the United States.
An abundance of available resources can be viewed as one reason why more women applied to colleges this year than men—3,805,978 applicants to 2,815,810, according to Common Application.
Unless American institutions of higher learning lower their costs and offer males similar resources to those they offer to females, we should expect more of the same.