Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Where the Guys Aren’t

As you know, my readers are wise, worldly, witty, discerning, and generous with advice.

Happily, they’re also ensconced in many different institutions and roles.  Which means that they often see things I don’t see. I’m hoping that this is one of those times.

The gender ratios among students at community colleges tend to hold relatively steady over time.  Nationally, for students over 24, the average is about 60 percent women. For a college looking to offset declining numbers of 18 year olds, men over 24 -- often with some college but no degree -- represent a major recruitment opportunity.

The reasons for the imbalance probably run pretty deep.  I’d guess that opportunity cost plays a significant role; if men without degrees typically make more money than women without degrees, then it’s financially harder for a couple to send the man back to school than to send the woman.  Addressing that would go beyond anything a single college can do.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to make college more appealing to adult men who could stand to benefit from it.

In my observation, once a college hits a given gender ratio, it typically stays within a point or two of it.  In other words, colleges with significant gender imbalances among adult students don’t usually get to parity. It just doesn’t happen very often.

I’m hoping that some of my wise and worldly readers have seen exceptions.  Even better, they know what made the exceptions work.

If you’ve seen a college with a typical gender split among adult students successfully bring in more men, how did it do it?  Was it the program mix, or the marketing, or specific outreach, or something else?

(I’m referring to recent years, after coeducation was thoroughly established.)

Anything useful would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks!