Where have all the men gone?

Community college students who are just out of high school are split fairly evenly between men and women, writes Matt Reed. But older students tend to be female. For those over 25, women may outnumber men by three to one. Why Don’t Men Return to College? he asks.

Reed guesses some are locked up. (And some are serving in the military.) But that’s not enough to explain the widening gender gap.

Opportunity cost could be a factor, if men without a college education make more than un-degreed women.

. . . then the cost to a family of sending Mom back to school is less than the cost of sending Dad back to school.  The male wage premium becomes a male opportunity cost penalty.

That’s plausible, writes Reed, but less so than it used to be. Wages have fallen for male workers with only a high school education.

Perhaps women are returning to college to train for health-care jobs, while men still see health care as a pink-collar job, he speculates.

Most research on gender in higher ed focuses on “how to bring more women into STEM fields, or how to improve the success rates of young men of color,” Reed writes. But it’s not just men of color who are missing on campus.

The lack of college-educated men may depress the marriage rate, writes Grace at Cost of College. In the U.S. there are 30 percent more women under 35 with a bachelor’s degree than men. It’s 47 percent in Miami and a whopping 71 percent in Detroit because black women are going so much farther in school than black men.

Excelencia: What works for Latino college success

At Miami Dade College, pass-Math is boosting Latino pass rates in gatekeeper math courses, improving retention and reducing math anxiety. A program at LaGuardia Community College strengthens counseling to help Latino and other low-income students move from remedial to college-level courses. San Diego State’s peer Mentoring program (pMp) helps community college transfers handle the transition.

Small programs produced real gains for first-generation Latino students, concludes Excelencia in Education’s Growing What Works report.

Only 21 percent of Latino adults 25 and older have completed an associate degree or higher, compared to 40 percent of all U.S. adults.  More Latinos are enrolling in college — especially community college — but success rates are low.

The report spotlights a variety of programs.

The Mother-Daughter Program at Knox College (Illinois) counseled families on the importance of completing a degree. “Latino families make decisions together and an informed family is more supportive,” says Deborah Santiago, Excelencia’s vice president of policy. Some mothers decided to enroll in college after participating with their daughters.

Some programs target male Latinos, who have higher dropout rates. At Monroe Community College in Rochester, New York, Doorway to Success focused on improving male students’ study habits, engagement and retention. The Clave Latino Male Empowerment program at Union County College in New Jersey includes learning communities, a monthly lecture series, professional development opportunities and a social and professional support network for business and economics students.

Where are the college men?

Female high-school students are more likely to aspire to a college degree, enroll and graduate than their male classmates, according to a report by the National Center for Education Statistics.

Men are “conspicuously absent” on the campus of Metropolitan Community College in Kansas City, writes Hanna Rosin in The End of Men: And the Rise of Women.

On afternoon, in the basement cafeteria of a nearly windowless brick building, several women were trying to keep their eyes on their biology textbook and ignore the text messages from their babysitters. Another crew was outside the ladies’ room, braiding one another’s hair. And when I got in the elevator I saw the image that has stuck with me, that epitomizes the contradictions of the new striving middle-class matriarchy — a woman, still in her medical-assistant scrubs, fell asleep between the first and fourth floors, so tired was she from studying, working and taking care of her kids by herself.

Although the college president tries to “recruit more boys,” 70 percent of MCC students are female.  Many are black women and working-class whites hoping to be nurses or teachers, Rosin writes.

In a 2005 survey of lower-income adults in college, the American Council on Education found men “start out behind academically,” Rosin writes. “They reported feeling isolated and were much worse at seeking out fellow students, study groups or counselors to help them adjust.” While “mothers going back to school described themselves as good role models for their children,” fathers worried they weren’t fulfilling their responsibilities as breadwinners.