Men are becoming the minority on college campuses – why?

Anna Raley, News Editor

Moderated through a faculty-student dinner discussion, on Tuesday, March 8th, Professor Ann Holbrook brought light to the pressing question: why are boys going to college in fewer numbers than girls, and then doing worse when they get there?

With the objective of illuminating the philosophical breadth of Saint Anselm community members; the Center for Ethics in Society, coordinated by Hannah Beaudry, provided a space (with food and drink) for students to intellectually interact with peers regarding gender disparities in higher education. 

The sobering truth in the pursuit of a tertiary-level education is that male students are disappearing from college campuses. An analysis done by the National Student Clearinghouse found that the total male enrollment in colleges, as well as actual completion towards a higher degree, has decreased 8.9 percent from spring 2020 to spring 2021. In addition, in 2020, the Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. colleges enrolled 1.5 million fewer students than five years ago, and men accounted for more than 70 percent of this alarming decline. 

Due to the formidable nature of these statistics, the inevitable question presents itself: why are men not going to college?

At the dinner, various student and faculty members relayed personal insight as to why young men have an apparent apprehension against higher education.

Some speculated upon the foundations of sexism in elementary-level classrooms. The phrases “boys will be boys’ ‘ and “the boys are the troublemakers’ ‘ overwhelms classrooms across the nation, and while harmless in the immediate effect, may have long-lasting impacts on how male-identifying students perceive themselves.

One faculty member emphasized the impact of the progression feminist movements. Participants called into question whether or not the focus upon women in education and the workforce has taken too much attention away from their male counter-parts. What more needs to be done to accommodate the declining male student population?

Here at Saint Anselm College the undergraduate population consists of 2,033 total students. Out of these students, 61.3 percent are female identifying and 38.7 percent are male identifying; depicting the fact that the Saint A’s campus is no anomaly to the country-wide curtailment of male students.

However, with these numbers in mind, how do the statistics of male and female applications parallel?

For the fall of 2021 the college received 4007 applications. 57.9 percent being female, 42.1 percent being male. Out of these applications, 3109 students were accepted. 57.2 percent female. 42.8 percent male.

These numbers, while pertinent, do not satiate the question: why less men? Where does this anti-school sentiment in men stem from?

There is no denial in the U.S., gender disparities are institutionalized, typically targeting female-identifying citizens. However, there is also the pressing stress on men to behave in a manner that adheres to the laid-back stereotype that college students are all too well aware of.

The prevalence of this subject was soberingly displayed through the lack of male student participants in the dinner discussion. Despite the conversation being focused around men and their current education system, only two male students attended. Which begs the question, what more can Saint Anselm do to encourage the prosperity of their male students?