Male students made up 52 percent of the U.S. undergraduate population in 1976, but that figure dropped to 43 percent by 2004, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The difference between male and female participation was found to be particularly stark among black students, where women outnumbered men in college enrollments by 29 percentage points in 2004.
Having recently completed my
indoctrination education at one of the nation's center's of higher learning, I have a few thoughts on the subject. Whether anyone really wants to admit it, one of the primary objects of going to college is to select a suitable (attractive) spouse from among the overflowing masses of humanity on this earth. Getting your foot in the door of a lucrative profession is nice byproduct as well, but while going to college allows a man to find a woman who might be more intelligent, attractive or successful than one he might find in his own small home town, going to college may not be what it once was.
Is it possible that young men are now able to have their cake and eat it too? At least since the housing bubble beginning in the early 2000's, it seems that young men have been able to leave high school slap up a few homes and pocket a couple of hundred thousand dollars. That sure looks a lot more attractive to a woman than a piece of parchment on the wall and a huge debt on the books. Additionally, is it possible that young men without college educations are capable of weighing the financial risks/rewards of going to college? Who wants to end up like this:
"For more than two decades, colleges and universities across the country have been jacking up tuition at a faster rate than costs have risen on any other major product or service - four times faster than the overall inflation rate and faster even than increases in the price of gasoline or health care (see the chart to the right). The result: After adjusting for financial aid, the amount families pay for college has skyrocketed 439% since 1982....Mind you, some borrowing can actually be a good thing, giving students a built-in investment in their education. But today many kids leave school with unprecedented amounts of debt - $20,000 on average, up from $9,000 a decade ago - and one in 10 private college students borrows over $40,000...One chilling sign: Among students who graduate from four-year schools with more than $15,000 in debt, the default rate is nearly 20%.
Update: Maybe there's a correlation between the rising number of women on college campus and the rise in prices. While I think it has much more to do with government subsidizing of student loans (ie. subsidies naturally create an artificial demand for a product) John Lott makes a similar argument that the growth of "big government" correlates with the age of women's suffrage:
"If women's right to vote increased government, our analysis should show a few definite indicators. First, suffrage would have a bigger impact on government spending and taxes in states with a greater percentage of women. And secondly, the size of government in western states should steadily expand as women comprise an increasing share of their population. Even after accounting for a range of other factors — such as industrialization, urbanization, education and income — the impact of granting of women's suffrage on per capita state government expenditures and revenue was startling. Per capita state government spending after accounting for inflation had been flat or falling during the 10 years before women began voting. But state governments started expanding the first year after women voted and continued growing until within 11 years real per capita spending had more than doubled. The increase in government spending and revenue started immediately after women started voting."