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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Missing: college men

A rare male student at Carlow University in Pittsburgh, where women outnumber men by more than six to one, Vinny Bucci said his male friends from high school chose vocational training over college.  Photo: Max Petrosky/Hechinger Report

Men are a minority on college campuses, reports Hechinger’s Jon Marcus.

In the 1970s, when I was in college, men outnumbered women by 58 percent to 42 percent. Parents invested more in educating their sons than their daughters. That’s flipped: This year, more than 56 percent of college students will be female.

By graduation, the numbers will be more skewed, since woman are more likely than men to complete a degree.

Boys are slower to learn reading, Jim Shelley, manager of the Men’s Resource Center at Lakeland Community College in Ohio, told Marcus. “By eighth or ninth grade, boys have lost interest.”

Many boys believe college takes too much time for too little payoff, said Jerlando Jackson, director and chief research scientist at Wisconsin’s Equity and Inclusion Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Low-income boys in places with the most economic inequality, in particular, suffer what one study called the “economic despair” of seeing little hope for financial advancement. “They think, ‘Well, I could just start out working in the mall and in six years make the same as a classmate who goes to college and whose first post-college job pays them less than I’ll be making then,’ ” Jackson said.

“I had a friend who, instead of going to college, went into trade work, and he said he’d have a job before I did,” said Vinny Bucci, who was in a small male minority at formerly female Carlow University in Pittsburgh. A biology graduate, he’s going to graduate school with plans of becoming a mental-health counselor. “And he does. But when he’s 45, he’ll be miserable.”

Colleges aren’t doing much to support male students, said Shelley, whose Men’s Resource Center is a rarity. “At most college campuses the attitude is that men are the problem versus men have problems too. I’ve had male students tell me that their first week in college they were made to feel like potential rapists.”

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