September 7, 2021

WHY ENROLL IN INSTITUTIONS THAT HATE YOU AND CALL YOU AN OPPRESSOR? A Generation of American Men Give Up on College: The number of men enrolled at two- and four-year colleges has fallen behind women by record levels, in a widening education gap across the U.S.

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. Women make up 49% of the college-age population in the U.S., according to the Census Bureau.

“Men are falling behind remarkably fast,” said Thomas Mortenson, a senior scholar at the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education, which aims to improve educational opportunities for low-income, first-generation and disabled college students.

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. . . .

In 2008, Mr. Smith proposed a men’s center to help male students succeed. The proposal drew criticism from women who asked, “Why would you give more resources to the most privileged group on campus,” he said.

Funding wasn’t appropriated, he said, and the center was never built.

If campuses treated blacks the way they treat men, it would be called apartheid. And while college looks like it was a good idea in the past, it’s not so clear that college, and the associated debt, is a good idea in the future.

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