There is a decline of male enrollment for the 2020-2021 academic year; and while the pandemic accelerated the trend, “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” reports The Wall Street Journal. Many said they wanted to go straight to making money after high school.
The Wall Street Journal published an article titled, “A Generation of American Men Give Up on College: ‘I Just Feel Lost.” The article explains how men are abandoning higher education in large numbers, are now trailing female students attending college 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.”
Thomas Mortenson, a senior scholar at the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education said, “men are falling behind remarkably fast.” Women increased the 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 a nonprofit that transmits applications to more than 900 schools.
According to the Census Bureau, women make up 49% of the college-age population in the U.S. Male applicants are not becoming less competitive than female applicants; just fewer are applying. Analysis of census data by the Pell Institute for the Wall Street Journal’s article suggests:
“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.”
Jennifer Delahunty, a college enrollment consultant says no college wants to tackle the issue under the glare of gender politics. The conventional view on campuses is that “men make more money, men hold higher positions, why should we give them a little shove rom high school to college?” she said. However, the stakes are too high to ignore, she added.
“If you care about our society, one, and two, if you care about women, you hate to care about the boys, too. If you have equally educated numbers of men and women that just makes a better society, and it makes it better for women.”
The pandemic did accelerate the trend, with nearly 700,000 fewer students were enrolled in colleges in spring 2021 compared with 2019; with 78% fewer men.