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The College Gender Gap

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The College Gender Gap

By the time I was a junior in high school, I had already embarked on a career in broadcasting. My first job was as a weekend announcer at WSJS radio in Winston-Salem. I was jazzed about the work, and all I could think about was landing a full-time position and skipping college. But no one in my extended family had ever graduated from college, and I knew it would mean a lot to my parents for me to be the first. Nevertheless, I was not going to give up my weekend job, so that meant I would need to attend a college that was close to work. That’s when I decided to drop by the UNCG admissions office and see if they would take me. Then as now, I was not particularly good looking, but the woman who greeted me just about leapt out of her chair when she saw me. I was flattered until I found out the reason for her excitement. Not only did UNCG want me to enroll, they NEEDED me to enroll. That’s because the University was still transitioning from single-gender to coed, and on the day of my visit, women outnumbered men by a ratio of 7 to 1. It was a win/win for everyone. UNCG landed another male student, and I was able to keep my radio job, work at the campus TV station, and get a college degree. I apologize for boring you with my personal story, but I promise there is a more universal point to this saga. 

UNCG’s coed transition aside, that same year, a national survey showed that men comprised 59% of all college students, and women comprised 41%. But a not-so-funny thing happened over the next 50 years. Last week, New York University professor Scott Galloway told CNN’s Michael Smerconish that college enrollment is now 60% female and 40% male, with every indication that the latter figure will continue to decline. In fact, these days, there are one million more women applying to college than men. According to Galloway, we are experiencing the largest gender gap in the history of American higher education, and that gap has created “mating inequality” in our society. 

“College educated women are not interested in mating with men who don’t have college degrees,” said Galloway. Ouch!

Clearly, today’s young men don’t value college as much as previous generations did. And while the cost of a college degree and resulting debt is a possible deterrent, it is also true that many of today’s males are just not very motivated, and that concerns Galloway.

“Uneducated men pose a risk to our economy and our society. If you look at the most unstable, violent societies in the world, they all have one thing in common: they have young, depressed men who aren’t attaching to work, aren’t attaching to school, and aren’t attaching to relationships. The most dangerous person in the world is a broke and alone male, and we are producing too many of them.” 

Galloway’s warning implies that the only time these lonely males get off their parents’ sofa is when they engage in hacking, insurrection, or some other anti-social activity, and that is both really scary and really sad. I don’t know what it’s going to take to motivate these guys in a positive direction, except to remind them as often as possible that they have value and potential, and that somewhere, there’s an admissions counselor who would be excited to see them walk through her door.

Jim Longworth is the host of Triad Today, airing on Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. on ABC45 (cable channel 7) and Sundays at 11 a.m. on WMYV (cable channel 15).

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