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Are Men Realizing that College Is The New High School?

One could read that into this article in Inside Higher Education documenting a surge in male enrollment in community colleges:

The Men Are Back January 13, 2010 For the first time in many years, a number of community colleges are reporting that their enrollment of male students this past fall either outpaced or equaled that of female students.

Tidewater Community College, in Virginia, saw a 16 percent increase in the enrollment of male students this past fall compared to fall 2008. During the same time period, female enrollment grew by 11.5 percent. Still, women are 61 percent of the college's overall enrollment and men 39 percent.

"This is the first time in a very, very long time that male growth outpaced female growth," said Deborah M. DiCroce, Tidewater's president. "I think that there is no way to separate what we're looking at here from the realities of the economy. This is clearly the reversal of a trend we've seen for years."

Some thoughts about why this is happening:

"Males have been lagging behind (in numbers and success) in education for quite a few years," wrote Karen Ritter, director of planning and assessment at the college, in an e-mail. "I suspect it's hard for them to find jobs, and they are finally seeing the benefit of higher education. Simply being male no longer gives them a leg up in the job market!"

I don't know how much optimism can be read into this. Women still make up 62 percent of those earning associate's degrees. But if this gender imbalance ever gets straightened out it will happen because males look around their economic world -- with nearly 80 percent of the layoffs happening to men -- and realize their world has changed.

The trick, of course, is getting them to realize that in eighth grade so they can do better surviving the college-readiness curriculum about to smack them in ninth grade, where their GPA's start counting. Tough job. But the simple reality is that if you want to be a police officer or work in a sophisticated machine shop, you need post-high school academic credentials. College truly is the new high school.

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