Paul L. Caron

Thursday, September 23, 2021

WSJ: A Generation Of American Men Give Up On College: ‘I Just Feel Lost’

Wall Street Journal, A Generation of American Men Give Up on College: ‘I Just Feel Lost’:

Men are abandoning higher education in such numbers that they now trail female college students by record levels.

At the close of the 2020-21 academic year, women made up 59.5% of college students, an all-time high, and men 40.5%, according to enrollment data from the National Student Clearinghouse, a nonprofit research group. U.S. colleges and universities had 1.5 million fewer students compared with five years ago, and men accounted for 71% of the decline.

This education gap, which holds at both two- and four-year colleges, has been slowly widening for 40 years. The divergence increases at graduation: After six years of college, 65% of women in the U.S. who started a four-year university in 2012 received diplomas by 2018 compared with 59% of men during the same period, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

In the next few years, two women will earn a college degree for every man, if the trend continues, said Douglas Shapiro, executive director of the research center at the National Student Clearinghouse.

No reversal is in sight. Women increased their lead over men in college applications for the 2021-22 school year—3,805,978 to 2,815,810—by nearly a percentage point compared with the previous academic year, according to Common Application, a nonprofit that transmits applications to more than 900 schools. ...

American colleges, which are embroiled in debates over racial and gender equality, and working on ways to reduce sexual assault and harassment of women on campus, have yet to reach a consensus on what might slow the retreat of men from higher education. Some schools are quietly trying programs to enroll more men, but there is scant campus support for spending resources to boost male attendance and retention.

The gender enrollment disparity among nonprofit colleges is widest at private four-year schools, where the proportion of women during the 2020-21 school year grew to an average of 61%, a record high, Clearinghouse data show. Some of the schools extend offers to a higher percentage of male applicants, trying to get a closer balance of men and women. ...

The college gender gap cuts across race, geography and economic background. For the most part, white men—once the predominant group on American campuses—no longer hold a statistical edge in enrollment rates, said Mr. Mortenson, of the Pell Institute. Enrollment rates for poor and working-class white men are lower than those of young Black, Latino and Asian men from the same economic backgrounds, according to an analysis of census data by the Pell Institute for the Journal. ...

Social science researchers cite distractions and obstacles to education that weigh more on boys and young men, including videogames, pornography, increased fatherlessness and cases of overdiagnosis of boyhood restlessness and related medications.

Men in interviews around the U.S. said they quit school or didn’t enroll because they didn’t see enough value in a college degree for all the effort and expense required to earn one. Many said they wanted to make money after high school. ...

Men dominate top positions in industry, finance, politics and entertainment. They also hold a majority of tenured faculty positions and run most U.S. college campuses. Yet female college students are running laps around their male counterparts.

The University of Vermont is typical. The school president is a man and so are nearly two-thirds of the campus trustees. Women made up about 80% of honors graduates last year in the colleges of arts and sciences.

Wall Street Journal op-ed:  Why Men Are Disappearing on Campus, by Richard Vedder & Braden Colegrove (Ohio University):

The Journal reported recently that men now make up only about 40% of college students. ... Between 1959 and 2021, the number of male students for every 100 women fell by an extraordinary 62%. ...

Why has this been happening? Here are four reasons. ...

America today is still largely led by college educated males. We looked at 200 corporate and political leaders—CEOs of the largest 100 companies in the Fortune 500 and the 100 U.S. senators. About 71.5% of them are men with a college education. Throughout history mostly educated men have run America—the last U.S. president without a college degree, Harry Truman, left office 60 years ago.

It’s great news that more women are going to college and entering positions of leadership in business, politics—including the vice presidency—and every imaginable corner of the culture. A woman will one day be elected president. That milestone, when it happens, should be celebrated. But men adrift—not keeping up in school, struggling to form families and succeed—will eventually have profound consequences on the nation’s economic prospects and political leadership.

(Hat Tip: Barry McDonald)

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