Jun 1, 2010

Women Seriously Outnumber Men in College

Women continue to account for a disproportionate share of the enrollments at postsecondary institutions. And, they are likely to become an even more dominant presence on campuses over the coming decade, according to research by the US Department of Education.

The numbers, collected and published annually by the department’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), indicate that by 2019 women will account for 59 percent of total undergraduate enrollment and 61 percent of total “postbaccalaureate” enrollment at colleges and universities throughout the country.

Between 1993 and 2007, the percentage of males enrolled in higher education dropped from 45 percent to 43 percent. And evidently, over the next ten years, the percent of males is expected to drop by an additional two points.

Why is this happening? In part, because there exists a gap between sexes in high school graduation rates. Fewer males than females are taking and passing college preparatory courses, and fewer are graduating from high school.

And what does this mean? Well for some, it means it’s going to get harder to get a date for Saturday night or to recruit new fraternity brothers for the local chapter of Phi Kappa Psi. But it’s also going to mean that at some colleges, the standards for admission of women may get even higher particularly at schools determined to keep the balance between sexes even.

Late last year, the US Commission on Civil Rights announced an investigation of DC area colleges to determine whether admissions offices might already be discriminating against women. Nineteen colleges and universities were selected for review. Although findings have yet to be published and the investigation continues, the latest enrollment projections from NCES suggest the possibility of an even larger problem on the horizon, as the percent of women in the applicant pool steadily grows.

In 2008, women accounted for 57 percent of the overall undergraduate population. According to College Navigator—a search engine maintained by NCES—most DC area college enrollments reflect the demographic bias toward female undergraduates:

American University: 62%
Catholic University: 54%
Christopher Newport University: 55%
College of William & Mary: 55%
George Mason University: 53%
George Washington University: 56%
Georgetown University: 54%
Howard University: 66%
Johns Hopkins University: 50%
Loyola University of Maryland: 58%
Towson University: 60%
UMBC: 45%
University of Mary Washington: 66%
University of Maryland: 48%
University of Richmond: 53%
University of Virginia: 56%
Virginia Commonwealth University: 57%

Note that the percent of women currently enrolled at any college or university can be very different from the percent who applied or who were actually admitted. For more information on individual admissions and enrollment patterns, go directly to the College Navigator website.

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