Creative male student sitting on the floor with laptop at library, working on new project  for his accessible online college and listening to music, free space.

Getting Men To Go To College Might Be Simpler Than It Looks

According to the most recent statistics, women outnumber men as college students by 2-to-1. 

The good news is that more women than ever are going to college. The bad news is that fewer men are. The percentage of men going to college is now at a historic low. Men are also seven percent more likely to drop out. 

Colleges around the country are trying to solve this unexpected crisis.

According to The Hechinger Report, different schools are taking different approaches:

  • The University of Vermont is hosting entrepreneurship challenges for high school students in the hope of attracting young men interested in starting a business.
  • The University of Montana is sending targeted emails to prospective students highlighting outdoor activities like a hunting class, a forestry program, and recreation.
  • The University of Southern California is using grant money to help community colleges enroll and retain more men of color

Some of these initiatives appear to help some of the time, but the overall problem persists, and is growing.

“The problem begins early,” The Hechinger Report says. “Girls do better in high school than boys, and are more likely to graduate. In the 37 states that report high school graduation rates by gender, 88 percent of girls finished high school on time, compared to 82 percent of boys, a 2018 study by the Brookings Institution found. Boys are more likely to think they don’t need a degree for the jobs they want, the Pew Research Center found, or go into the trades. Even if they do enroll in colleges, work opportunities lure them away. Men who dropped out of community college are more likely than women to say it was because of other work opportunities, according to a survey by the think tank New America.”

Which is another way of saying that no-one has a clear solution to this problem. 

Like Everyone, Men Go To College When It’s Accessible

Calbright is a free online community college that is specifically designed to meet the needs of non-traditional and disenfranchised students, so perhaps it’s not surprising that it is getting much better results with male enrollment than traditional institutions. As of the most recent student survey, just over half of Calbright’s student body is male (50.9%), just under half is female (43.5%) and the rest is non-binary or declined to state. 

Calbright does not specifically target male students, it has no marketing effort or initiative designed to enroll men, but it seems likely that its strong focus on accessibility, on being a college that every adult Californian can access, makes a difference.

Among the ways Calbright makes itself accessible:  

  • Calbright has a simple admissions process: if you want to enroll, and you’re an adult California resident with a high school diploma or equivalent, you’re in. Whenever you want. No waiting, no uncertainty, no rejection.
  • Calbright uses a Competency-Based Learning model that allows students to learn at their own pace, on their own time, on their own schedule. This makes it easy to take classes while working a job, or giving care to children or elderly parents, or managing any of the other many responsibilities people have. No one has to give up on their education to stay current on their job. 
  • Calbright provides significant services and support to help students stay on track and complete their programs. Calbright automatically connects students with academic advisors and success coaches, and they follow each students’ progress and offer support in time to make a difference. We are high tech and high touch. Everyone gets the help they need.

Calbright may be successfully recruiting male students in part because we make college accessible, and then provide support to help them stay in it. 

Keeping Education Career Focused

In addition to accessibility, Calbright is strongly career focused, and this might also enhance its appeal to male prospective students. 

Calbright only offers programs in areas where California companies are hiring for good, upwardly mobile jobs. Careers like Project Management, IT Support, CRM Platform Administration, Cybersecurity, Data Analysis, and Network Technology. Calbright’s programs are all designed specifically to help students get skills and credentials that will help them transition into these careers, or accelerate their current careers quickly. 

Students study at their own pace, learning the material until they’re able to pass the tests, without any penalties. But all of Calbright’s programs are designed to be completed in less than a year. Some students even complete them in just a few months! 

That means that students can get the skills and credentials they need to advance their career, for free, as quickly as they need to. And Calbright’s career services program offers significant support in areas like networking, resume building, job hunting, and interview prep.

It all adds up to a very different kind of college experience, and a very different kind of college. 

The secret to successfully getting men into college might be simple: make it accessible and focused for everyone.  

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