Record Level of American Men Foregoing College

The Wall Street Journal published an in-depth article on how male enrollment at two and four year US colleges is at record low levels, to the degree that some schools are skewing enrollments towards men to keep the gender ratio from being wildly out of whack.

Author Douglas Belkin’s sources don’t have tidy explanations for this decline in male willingness to pursue higher education. The drop in male participation is worst at private four year schools. It’s most pronounced among low income white men.

Many of the men interviewed said they didn’t see that getting a sheepskin would be worth the cost. While it is rational not to take on a big debt load if the income payoff isn’t there, why would men be more likely to see college as a bad bet than women? Is it because men (or at least reasonably able bodied men) see that their fallbacks include jobs that can pay solid hourly rates, such as construction, carpentry, plumbing, or electrical work (although it takes training to become competent in the trades)? By contrast, some female-dominated positions that require credentials but not degrees, like certified nursing aides, are not well paid; home health care aides, retail, and waitressing often pay at or not much above minimum wage.

The piece tacitly accepts that many, clearly too many, wind up as student debt slaves, yet politely avoids looking at how that sorry outcome has come about.

Nevertheless, as the article makes clear, many of these men feel unmoored by not having a career path or plan, particularly since society has not let men escape their traditional role of being a provider (both men and women in couples are uncomfortable if the women has the higher income).

The key facts, per the Journal:

Men are abandoning higher education in such numbers that they now trail female college students by record levels.

At the close of the 2020-21 academic year, women made up 59.5% of college students, an all-time high, and men 40.5%, according to enrollment data from the National Student Clearinghouse, a nonprofit research group. U.S. colleges and universities had 1.5 million fewer students compared with five years ago, and men accounted for 71% of the decline.

This education gap, which holds at both two- and four-year colleges, has been slowly widening for 40 years. The divergence increases at graduation: After six years of college, 65% of women in the U.S. who started a four-year university in 2012 received diplomas by 2018 compared with 59% of men during the same period, according to the U.S. Department of Education….

The college gender gap cuts across race, geography and economic background. For the most part, white men—once the predominant group on American campuses—no longer hold a statistical edge in enrollment rates, said Mr. Mortenson, of the Pell Institute. Enrollment rates for poor and working-class white men are lower than those of young Black, Latino and Asian men from the same economic backgrounds, according to an analysis of census data by the Pell Institute for the Journal.

Covid has played a role in this shift. Enrollment fell in 2021, even more among men than women, and the male decline was steeper in two year programs. Experts said a big factor was that working women had to stay home to care for children when schools went to remote learning, and many turned to their sons to help meet household budgets. Some of the ones in or about to start college quit.

But this trend was well underway before the pandemic, so the Journal looks for additional explanations:

Social science researchers cite distractions and obstacles to education that weigh more on boys and young men, including videogames, pornography, increased fatherlessness and cases of overdiagnosis of boyhood restlessness and related medications.

Men in interviews around the U.S. said they quit school or didn’t enroll because they didn’t see enough value in a college degree for all the effort and expense required to earn one. Many said they wanted to make money after high school.

In the Journal comments section, many readers went the Jordan Peterson route, arguing that the near-pervasive view in higher educational institutions that patriarchy was a major source of societal ills made them a male-hostile environment, so it should be no surprise that men were less keen about enrolling than they used to be.

But we don’t hear much of that sort of thing from the men the Journal interviewed. Instead, they seem to want to head in a direction but have no idea where to go. A few of their examples:

Daniel Briles, 18 years old, graduated in June from Hastings High School in Hastings, Minn. He decided against college during his senior year, despite earning a 3.5 grade-point average and winning a $2,500 college scholarship from a local veterans organization.

He took a landscaping job and takes home about $500 a week. Mr. Briles, a musician, also earns some income from creating and selling music through streaming services, he said, and invests in cryptocurrencies. His parents both attended college, and they hope he, too, will eventually apply. So far, they haven’t pressured him, he said.

“If I was going to be a doctor or a lawyer, then obviously those people need a formal education. But there are definitely ways to get around it now,” Mr. Briles said. “There are opportunities that weren’t taught in school that could be a lot more promising than getting a degree.”

Many young men who dropped out of college said they worried about their future but nonetheless quit school with no plan in mind. “I would say I feel hazy,” said 23-year-old Jay Wells, who quit Defiance College in Ohio after a semester. He lives with his mother and delivers pallets of soda for Coca-Cola Co. in Toledo for $20 an hour.

“I’m sort of waiting for a light to come on so I figure out what to do next,” he said.

Men as a whole are lagging women even before college:

Men dominate top positions in industry, finance, politics and entertainment. They also hold a majority of tenured faculty positions and run most U.S. college campuses. Yet female college students are running laps around their male counterparts.

The University of Vermont is typical. The school president is a man and so are nearly two-thirds of the campus trustees. Women made up about 80% of honors graduates last year in the colleges of arts and sciences.

One student from nearly every high school in Vermont is nominated for a significant scholarship at the campus every year. Most of them are girls, said Jay Jacobs, the university’s provost for enrollment management…

The young men who enroll lag behind. Among University of Vermont undergraduates, about 55% of male students graduate in four years compared with 70% of women. “I see a lot of guys that are here for four years to drink beer, smoke weed, hang out and get a degree,” said Luke Weiss, a civil engineering student and fraternity president of Pi Kappa Alpha at the campus.

The article concludes by contending that women have a better support system in the form of 500 women’s centers across the country, and that there’s resistance for providing men with similar help. I’m in no position to judge, since I have an aversion for groups, plus these women’s centers have incentives to proclaims themselves as effective, whether they were or not.

But there is a more sobering way to look at this trend. If the Jackpot is nigh, fancy degrees won’t offer much protection from the disruption.1 The men’s lack of a sense of direction may actually be an accurate reading that no career path is secure or durable, so why invest much in one?


1 The reality is in really bad times, medical skills are always highly valued. People will barter for care.

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  1. Randall Flagg

    It does take training and many times a lot of it, to learn a trade. Often though that training is paid for by the employer as you progress from Apprentice to Journeyman to your Masters license, in the electrical and plumbing trades for instance . Tallying it up that cost is usually way less than that of higher education, even throwing in the cost of tools and a truck/van. It can be dirty, nasty, backbreaking work, but incredibly rewarding both financially and in so many other ways. How many degrees you have is not going to help you when the toilets don’t flush. the septic systems fail, the electrical panel has problems, the roof leaks and a long list of you name it. These jobs aren’t going anywhere soon, new construction may take a hit as the economy ebbs and flows, but the existing housing stock is always there to need repairs.
    Along with the fact that these jobs are tough to outsource, it’ll be a while before they are automated by robots. A great way of life for the right person with the right attitude. Worked for me is all I can say. And for a lot of guys that have and still are doing pretty damn well for themselves up here in the Green Mountain and Granite State.
    The trades are totally disrespected by the guidance counselors of America with their mission of sending everyone to college when they should know better that many have the aptitude for vocational work instead of college. At least that was the impression received when my kids were in High School.

    Mike Rowe covered it best in Dirty Jobs.

    1. Larry

      One of my friends has gone this route and become a carpenter. The catch is that he excelled at the college path, graduating with honors from Bates College. He spent years working in special education and helping kids, but eventually burned out on it. Started his own business that went nowhere and then decided to pursue carpentry. He’s making more money than he did in education and getting more satisfaction than he did working in education. The Boston market is great for making money for small carpentry jobs, we can’t get enough trades in the area. And the young guys he works with have no regrets about not loading up on debt to get a degree either.

      I don’t know if the trend is mirrored elsewhere, but when I was going to High School in the mid-90s in Massachusetts it was not a problem to gain admission to a vocational high school. Now we have lottery systems. It’s harder to go the non-college prep route now, which tells you something about how people value that route. Massachusetts has underinvested in this form of education and at the same time turned all of our State colleges into Universities. Formerly these were highly affordable local institutions that trained teachers, law enforcement and other professionals. My Grandmother attended Westfield State to become an elementary school teacher in her 50s after raising her family. That type of route is much harder to obtain as we’ve poured more money into higher ed and the message that college is nearly the only path.

      1. Pavel

        My nephew took a very similar course. He’s a bright young man and studied maths and linguistics (IIRC) at Boston U. Despite coming from a very academic family he ended up going into high-end carpentry and joinery for a local firm making amazing furniture (based on things he did for my parents) and leading an apparently very happy and fulfilled life (despite an unfortunate divorce). He’s about to marry a charming young woman who works at MIT as some sort of wind specialist (^_^).

        I worked briefly — for my sins, or adding to them perhaps — with a bunch of hot-shot hedge fund types in NYC decades ago, people making (literally) millions of dollars per month. I assure you my nephew is a happier and certainly more ethical person than they were.

        [One can’t comment on US colleges without mentioning the costs, of course. A medical colleague in Paris trained in Germany where her fees at medical school each year were (at the time) $500 or so plus the costs of books. Of course in Germany it is a fairly meritocratic entrance system for university and they have a highly-developed vocational education system. Fancy that!]

        1. Larry

          The costs are astronomical and to me should be the headline story of why men are not attending college. I would also wager if you slice the total pool of men attending into tiers of colleges, you would find plenty of men at tier 1 colleges/universities. Going to Brown or Colby will punch you a ticket to high pay, whether or not life is unsatisfactory manipulating symbols for cash. Go down the tiers and I suspect the ratios continue to flip towards women.

          My mother attended UMass Amherst and paid for college and living expenses waitressing while pursuing her studies. One would be hard pressed to pay for living expenses in the pioneer valley with a part time job now.

          An additional factor is that because of the costs and risks of those costs in the form of loans, we expect young people to be laser focused on a career and education track that will get them there. This may be shocking, but at ages 17-19, one may not know what they’re truly interested in yet. I attended college with some goals in mind, but never worried that shifting my studies might result in me suffering through onerous debt payments.

          Another friend of mine had a meandering path towards his career. Flunked out of UC Santa Cruz in one year (partying, no direction), worked manual jobs for several years and returned to college in his 30s. He obtained a teachers degree at Bridgewater State College (now university) for an affordable price and is a teacher in NH. It’s worked well for him. But do that today and the first stop at UC Santa Cruz may have already saddled him with a difficult amount of debt to repay.

          1. JohnMc

            i had no direction as a high school grade, wasted a couple semesters at a community college. after 7 years i eventually decided i’d had enough working as a bricklayer and buckled down and started college for real and got an engineering degree. for me it was the best path and i’m still surprised it is not recommended for other teenagers who aren’t ready to choose a career. even more so today when a wasted college semester or two is so costly.

            1. Harry

              Absolutely. Its very difficult offering guidance to kids on this issue today. Most American kids are not thinking about a longer term career path when they decide on college.

              1. Harrold

                There are no long term career paths.

                For an 18 year old entering college today, who can really predict the job market 40-50 years in the future?

        2. IM Doc

          The very sad state of affairs with cost is very real.

          When I was in my first two years of medical school the cost for tuition was 1200 a year. The books and supplies were about 1500, and my lodging was about 4000 for the whole year. I spent the whole time as a waiter at Chili’s and the rest of it as a wait staff for a catering company. I often studied all night long.

          Graduated with zero debt as did most of my peers. Thirty years ago.

          There is absolutely zero chance anyone could pull off that today. Even at public medical schools the tuition is on the order of 20 to 30 thousand a year.

          It is absolutely criminal what has happened.

          1. Sparks

            My last year of college at a State University in Texas was in 1989. 15 hours a semester cost around $375 and books for that semester were around $100. You could work PART TIME during the summer for $3.35/hr and almost cover all costs for the following Fall and Spring semesters. (not counting food/board)

            Today 15 hours at the same school is around $6000. Books at least another $1000.

            It is absolutely criminal. We are completing screwing our young people. :(

            1. kmt1923

              Indeed – cuts in federal & state financial support to state university systems has been a real mistake. Largely thanks to republicans. Lack of real high school counselors another victim of ill-advised budget cuts in schools

            2. drumlin woodchuckles

              Part of this price-rise against students has to be due to the Great Tax Revolt decades. State publics all over the US voted for tax reduction legislatures and these legislatures boycotted and embargoed tax-funded investment against their State Universities and Colleges ( and Community Colleges somewhat).

              So when the post-secondary institutions found themselves running short of money because of State Legislative boycotts and embargoes against tax-funding them, they raised tuitions ( and other fees and prices I suppose) as the only place left to go find the missing money.

              Rising costs have been blamed on the rising level of Administrative Overhead Racketeering. I wish someone would do a vast and magisterial study of how much State Tax Support dropped to all the Higher Ed Institutions over the last 40 years and how much the Administrative Overhead Racketax rose over the same 40 years. If the amount of support-reduction is bigger than the amount of Administrative Racketax increase, then the amount by which the support-reduction is bigger is the exact amount to which the anti Higher Ed legislative boycotts and embargoes are to blame for tuition and etc. increases.

        3. IM Doc

          And I hate to be thought of as sexist or misogynist. Most definitely not. But I am a truth teller.

          And in my world, my med school class was 28% women. All but 2 30 years later are no longer in practice.

          In my residency class, there were 56 men and 28 women. 52 of the men are still working while only 2 women are. There was a massive drop off of women as we turned 35 to 40.

          They were having and raising their young kids. In medicine when you take 5-6 years off it is profoundly difficult to return.

          This loss of doctors is a gigantic component of our current doctor shortage.

          1. Sparks

            Wow, I never thought of that but it makes complete sense.

            Thank you for all of your thought provoking and informative posts, I’ve learned so much from you. I rarely post here, but I read the posts and comments every day.

            Also thank you for all you do to help heal people during these challenging times Doctor!!

          2. Nels Nelson

            Thank you for this comment. Although I’m not an MD, I have made the same observation. Strictly anecdotal, I had a neighbor couple who were both MDs. The wife passed her boards and then never practiced to raise the kids. I always thought that was a waste of very valuable education resources.

            In a similar vein, I read some years ago that before education opportunities opened for women in professional fields such as medicine and law, the largest fields open to women were teaching and nursing. This had an unintended benefit in that women with a desire for advanced education were forced into these and similar fields resulting in a very good pool of teachers and nurses.

            I apologize if the above paragraph has offended past and current teachers and nurses, but I’m simply relating something I read.

          3. PlutoniumKun

            A close relative of mine teaches general practioners here. He has also made the same observation, but has also said that many female doctors quite sensibly migrate to those specialisms that offer a 9-5 lifestyle leading to an imbalance in some sectors. Young male doctors apparently give little thought to this aspect, even though they might grow to regret this later in their careers.

            I know a family doctor here in a small partnership practice who was informed by his wife that when seeking a new partner, that he had a divorce in store if he hired a female partner . The reason was that it was ‘known’ among the wives of local physicians that the female partner would insist on more family friendly hours, pushing the unsocial hours on the male partners. Whether this is true or not, this is most definitely the perception out there among physicians spouses.

            Having said that, here in Ireland I know there are some very positive moves to change the way local medicine works in order to share the work pressures around more equitatably. It was apparent that this was essential if they weren’t going to lose an unsustainable number of young doctors.

          4. ZacP

            Some of the busiest surgeons with whom I work are women in their 30s who are having kids and then returning to work. One especially impressive attending has just learned an additional challenging specialty while going through her second pregnancy. I have always wondered how she keeps up with it all, and I guess that employing a paid childcare worker is a more acceptable thing to do for a woman physician than in years past?

          5. Kris Alman

            I started medical school in 1980. Among the ~25% of us who were female, I assumed that the profession would better accommodate the demands this career puts on women who get married and have children. How wrong I was.

            Endocrinology is a “cognitive” specialty that is of low value, as the AMA CPT codes deem. With two little kids, my gross income working two jobs at half-time+ (but full time hours) was $24,000 in 1997. Some of this work was contractual and I had to pay significant taxes. Bottom line is I broke even on child care for a chaotic life.

            The one chance I had at a job share required me to become full-time when the female colleague took off time for parental leave. The male partners of this Endocrinology practice covered their call during the week. The male partners had no empathy for how that might work for our two physician family dealing with call.

            I gave up. That meant my husband was stuck with the balance of my $60,000 debt for private medical school education.

            And believe me, I felt guilty. One of the questions asked of me by the Chief of Internal Medicine where I did my residency was, “You aren’t going to be one of those women who become a doctor and give it up after having babies?”

            I don’t think it’s gotten any easier for women who are seeking part time work.

            So now both men and women are saddled with medical school debt to practice medicine that is under algorithmic controls that ensure the tests and procedures for “wellness” are done–never mind the false positives or inability to improve on BMIs or Hemoglobin A1Cs.

            The children of M.D. couples must be farmed out to child care and summer camps that can temporarily close at a moment’s notice because of Covid. Assuming, that is, that these low paid jobs can be filled.

            Neither of our kids was interested in going to medical school.

      2. Harry

        It is a very tight market for carpenters around Boston. When you find a good one with reasonable rates you dont let go. However its very common to lose a digit in the trade. You have to be constantly on guard to avoid accidents with circular saws.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          The big problem is setting up shop and how long you can afford to be in make it work mode there. I guess you could live off the T and really can avoid traffic, so it’s not a huge area, just dense. If you live too far away, you aren’t going to be reliable.

      3. lordkoos

        I wish I had learned carpentry or electrical work, my dad was a professor so college was expected. I ended up not going to school at all and became a musician instead, much to my parents chagrin. Some of my friends are self-employed as carpenters or handymen, have done well for themselves, and can always find work.

    2. Grayce

      Guidance counselors sometimes seem to be intermixing individuals in some generic efficiency style instead of looking at individuals. The person who goes into trade really needs instruction in small business management. So many become good at the trade, but lack the skills to do billing and records keeping. Proposals and “free estimates” can be critical to the business success of a tradesman. Counselors seem to be blind to the mix of manliness and office skill. Yet, as a homeowner, I can spot the difference in the written proposals and bills from equally skilled workers. It makes one wonder if they are all prepared to look out for their own economic success.

    3. Kitty1923

      Exactly – and anyone who thinks skilled trades and crafts do not require intellectual gifts and talent have less sense than a domestic goose. There is a reason the europeans especially Germany have vigorous programs starting in 7th grade leading to apprenticeships and employment in skilled trades.

      Take a look at what the last visit by the plumber or electrician ran. And too many high schoolers do not realize that they do not have to run up debt to go to college. Stay home, attend community college, work part time to cover costs. Attend local branch of state university & work part time. Or out of town in state and work at employer with a tuition subsidy & part time work.

      And frankly no one cares 6 years after graduation what college you went to for BS. Now a masters or PhD is another matter because the connections can matter.

    4. Hayek's Heelbiter

      Across the Pond in Blighty, a friend was helping an elderly woman upgrade her house (built in the 1960s) to contemporary standards in order to sell it.
      Do you the know going daily rate for a plumber (this was not in London, but builders and tradesmen everywhere are getting London rates due to pent-up demand from the pandemic and certainb sociological factors).
      Four-hundred pounds a day, nearly six-hundred dollars!
      As my law enforcement friend says, “Do the math, [insert name]. Do the math.”
      Let’s see, would you rather end up tens of of thousands in the black as a tradesman or tens of thousands of dollars in the red?
      Option B always if you’re a middle class English kid or their parents, neither of whom would ever consider even for a moment learning something that required holding some sort of tool in your hand.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          And even as all these skilled tradespeople sell their work-over-time to paying customers who can’t do these things themselves so that the tradespeople in question can earn the money to buy those things which only money can pay for . . . . they could very well create a very lively informal parallel barter economy among themselves doing these skilled things for eachother. ” I’ll paint your house if you wire my house”.

          And homedwellers with a special skill and ability at growing significant amounts of rare specialty produce in their yards might be able to barter some of that with some skilled work from some of the skilled tradespeople. Thereby growing the Free UnMarket CounterEconomy even a little bit more.

  2. rowlf

    An interesting article. One of my sons just graduated high school and went to work immediately as a mechanic at a car/truck dealership, the other is finishing up high school and sells custom clothes he sews on Etsy. Both plan to wait to go to college due to the pandemic, and both plan to take the basic classes at a community college before going to a university.

    1. rowlf

      The first kid got a Fluke model 12 multimeter to play with when he was six, the second kid is on his second sewing machine and serger. Both like to build computers. Neither want any college debt.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        There is a scene in the movie “Office Space” (1999) where the Bobs say they will do the usual, hire low cost new graduates and farm work out to India. Enjoy learning to code, kids. The plot revolves around a scheme from Superman III (1983). People have been learning to code and not making ends meet for a long time.

        Why listen to people who are lying? Everyone knows code monkeys are filling out TPS reports. Of course, the DC political class likes “The Hangover”, so I fear Mike Judge is beyond their level of discourse. Why take on a debt in a society that doesn’t invest the other way?

        1. arte

          Yes, I do remember that a computer science and engineering degree was considered a bad choice by the received wisdom of 25 years ago. The enrollment went down and there was a lot of hand-wringing why women were not interested in this kind of a career (that was supposed to be completely outsourced to China and India by 2010, remember!).

          In retrospect, a software engineer’s career seems to have been a great choice – though that may have something to do with my generation only studying it if that was what they were truly interested in, and not as a result of the “learn to code” hype…

          Realize: to make code outsourcing work, you have to have more competent management than if you do your coding in-house. And it is dull, hard work to manage that with an ever-rotating, ever-less-competent cast of outsourced programmers (the stars move on with their own careers, after all). Some people are suited to do that kind of management, but most look for other opportunities after some time. And the next guy may not have a realistic view of what is needed to make this shit work, and it all goes to hell in a couple of years.

      2. griffen

        I wish to highlight, that in segments of the smaller consumer finance firms I’ve worked for as an analyst there is a definite IT need for coders in SQL, in Python in R, and perhaps a few others. I am not by trade a SQL coder, but I did learn simple means to populate / write data to tables and access data from tables.

        Learning to code is much too broad. Learning specific programs to code, however, could be a path to something reliable as a career can go. It’s a bonus if while learning to code they gain an understanding of meta data sets too.

        1. lordkoos

          If you enjoy spending your life staring at screens, it’s all good but that’s definitely not for everyone.

      3. rowlf

        How did discussing my sons (The local Johnny and Luther Htoo of troubleshooting equipment/hardware) morph into computer programming?

        1. griffen

          What’s the quote from noted thinker Yogi Berra? If you reach a fork in the road, take it!

          Thoughtful comments about whether or not learn to code is or will be applicable in the future.

  3. 1 Kings

    I like the difference between social scientists reasons-video games, porn and single mothers etc- and actual interviews with young men. The degree ain’t worth it for the ridiculous cost charged. (Considering tuition has risen many, many multiple times in the last 30 years.
    Sounds like American young men are very reasonable. A good sign.

    1. Larry

      Agreed. All of those factors were present when I went to college as well. The major change is greater awareness of the costs of college and the slow rate of return on the investment.

  4. Fazal Majid

    It may reflect a rational assessment that most trades or vocational skills are offshoring-proof. Accounting or programming can be done from India, but not plumbing. And then there is the fact that most college majors have negative ROI, with departments preying on gullible youths to maintain their turf, specially when egging on students to go to graduate school even when job prospects are dim and competition intense.

  5. PlutoniumKun

    Its always difficult to interpret trends like this as the job market for women and men, at least below professional grades, tend to work very differently.

    As an example, in the early 00’s in Ireland there was a major drop-off of young men taking college degrees compared to women. The likely explanation was that the construction boom meant a proliferation of relatively well paid jobs available that seemed far more attractive to a 19 year old than a few years in college. Many intended to return later, having made a bit of money. The same range of jobs wasn’t generally available to younger women. The situations reversed after the crash, where male employment areas were hit disproportionately hard compared to female dominated sectors – this undoubtedly had the impact of push-pulling more young men into college or vocational courses, as even in bad times most would have known there was little future even in emigration without a saleable skill.

    There is, incidentally no major college loan scam in Ireland (although there are costs involved), so the labour market ‘pull’ was clearly greater than the college cost ‘push’.

    Post Brexit UK will be an interesting petri dish. There has been a long term trend for more women to get third level degrees such that many traditionally male sectors are either now more balanced or becoming more female dominated. But the costs of third level have gone up hugely, mostly thanks to the Libdems and Cameron. But there wasn’t the same ‘push’ from the labour market as a huge influx of east Europeans. I was really quite shocked to discover a few years back on a trip to London that a typical construction worker was earning less than I did as a student doing summer construction jobs 20 years previously. The going rate at that time was an (illegal) £5 an hour for a casual labourer in London (compared, oddly to £10 an hour for an office cleaner). Pay like that is a pretty good incentive for a young man to go get a skill. But with Brexit there is a huge shortfall in casual workers, so maybe this will push up wages for the unskilled or partially skilled. It will be interesting to see if it results in the same ‘pull’ from third level working for young men. I suspect that it will.

  6. chuck roast

    Back in the day union guys took care of their friends kids, and in return their kids were taken care of. When I got out of the army my dad, who was a union truck driver, had me all set up for a spot as an electrician journeyman. Similarly, my friends became steamfitters, plumbers and toolmakers. I went off to uni and never looked back…which was a good thing because I couldn’t go home again.

  7. Roger Blakely

    First we were told the the patriarchy is holding women back. Now we are told that there are not enough financially eligible men to satisfy female hypergamy. We are living in a society where one-fourth of men between the ages of eighteen and thirty years old are virgins. That is no way to run a society.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Well I guess that the other three-fourths of those young guys are going to have to step up and fill the gap for that missing one-fourth of young guys.

    2. Roger Blakely

      Female hypergamy. It all comes down to female hypergamy. Fifty years ago Phyllis Schlafly said the most bigoted thing when she said that all you will accomplish by giving women better educational opportunities and better job opportunities is that women will end up having fewer men to choose from when they want to get married. Fifty years later we can see that Phyllis Schlafly was correct. In the comments above you can see that female doctors can’t be bothered to marry anyone else but male doctors. That’s how you end up with a society in 2021 where one-fourth of men between the ages of eighteen and thirty years old are virgins. That is no way to run a society.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        You and your idol Schlafly choose to omit the key fact: that women always and ever bear the main burden of child rearing and house-keeping (even when that entails hiring nannies and cleaners). If men would do their fair share on the child and home upkeep front, women would not need to drop out. The (few) women I know with kids in high powered jobs had hubbies who shouldered a lot of the load.

        1. Tom

          As long as women can accept men that make less than them in order to shoulder more of the household load, I agree men should “do their fair share”. If there’s only one bread-winner, I disagree and the person at home has their fair share cut out for them.

          If it’s an equal partnership, good luck overcoming the loss in productivity gains when two parties can’t specialize their skillsets relative to partnerships that do. By skillsets, I mean one skillset requirement geared towards reproduction and the other skillset requirement geared towards production (to support reproduction and the produced).

          There’s nothing wrong with it but hypergamy is at odds with equality’s goals.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            You still have it backwards. The reality is that the man always has the option as to how much he does re his kids. He can dump it all on his wife, even abandon her (child support is better than nothing but not by much; 1 in 7 single mothers winds up bankrupt).

            And I have known women in serious jobs (one a top Wall Street professional, the other a full prof in a medical speciality) who kept working full time. One was the breadwinner. The other had a husband who made way more than her but still did a lot of the child care.

  8. DJG, Reality Czar

    From the comments above, it sounds as though not going to college is a viable option for many young men–and rational choice. Further, people in the trades often have more control over their work, in particular, if they work for themselves or for a small company. (Years ago, I worked for a woman who owned a boutique-y typesetting / design company, and she taught me that there are times when an owner / sole proprietor fires clients. I recalled that advice a couple of times later, when I was free-lancing again.)

    One overarching factor here is that U.S. society is played as a zero-sum game.

    An example is something that young men may have gotten a whiff of: Jobs in sales and jobs in U.S. offices can be real horror shows. Let alone mentioning the problems of wage stagnation. I have worked in publishing for many years–and the biggest “dilemma” in publishing has been how to suppress wage increases. Is publishing a viable career now? Maybe. Yet even as publishing as an industry has sought equity between men and women, bad management, poor labor practices (the hours expected), unattractive offices (with veal holding pens galore), low / stagnant wages, periodic layoffs, and lack of a career path all indicate that many problems haven’t been solved.

    And in an office one has a hard time firing one’s boss.

    Why not try one’s hand at making guitars or furniture instead? Why not work as a plumber–because much of the day you are likely to be lightly supervised?

    An interesting factor here is that many of these young men are going into the trades and other occupations regardless of the lack of health insurance. Yes, they are young. Yet it still takes some determination to get out of the system to do something like that, because health insurance is used to keep the herd under control.

  9. griffen

    I suspect that talking with older siblings or older friends, about the very real debt load + lack if decent opportunity is driving some of this. By example, I had started a new finance role in 2016 (monthly reporting). We would discuss student loans, and I was 10 to 15 years older. My younger coworkers were more alert to that debt, and thinking through those ramifications.

    Universities, as noted here I’m certain of it, are bloated with administration and middle management. And all the building programs, for athletic facilities and residential living.

  10. Grayce

    Economics cannot be the sole (or soul-sucking) motivation for getting a “higher education.” To what do young men aspire? What do they wish to learn? In the constant measure of the world as a marketplace, it is no wonder that athletes cannot just enjoy their games, daydreamers cannot just expand their knowledge, young men cannot just discover their inner genius, and young women cannot just explore their left brain. What a waste we make of potential. What a crime we perpetuate on the 90% we can only see as a workforce.

    1. margaret bartley

      The time has long-since passed when young people can take on a debt-load that precludes being able to purchase a home, for the sake of daydreams, inner genious and games.
      Save that for after-work hours.
      BTW, doing such activity is much easier if you’ve spent your daily 8 hours working physical jobs, rather than intellectual factory work.

  11. Louis Fyne

    As a big fan of classical liberal arts (aka “Great Books” learning)…..not going into today’s college is progress! (for 80+% of today’s men)

    barring the pearl clutching from the NPR-NYT crowd who depending on their tuition

    AI/software as a service is going to hollow the “back office” and corp. HQs of low level white collar staff. (already has in many places)

    And if indeed pundits are serious about the Green New Deal/build back better…ya know what? we nees millions of welders, linemen, electricians, plumbers, etc to avoid massive skilled labor shortages in 10 years

    1. lordkoos

      An enlightened government would be training young people for those jobs, and would be moving manufacturing back to the USA as well. But we won’t have that because markets.


    To borrow a term from geopolitics: Blowback. Trying to correct for gender diversity by encouraging male young adults from all sides (parents, teachers, relaxed admissions) to give up their own sense of autonomy and listen to authority is not the answer.

    Not having a degree might decrease lifetime earnings (have fun correcting for intelligence/diligence/capability in a study on that) but having no degree and 200k in debt after going through the motions for 3 years until failing or dropping out is unquestionably worse.

  13. Glossolalia

    Many young men who dropped out of college said they worried about their future but nonetheless quit school with no plan in mind. “I would say I feel hazy,” said 23-year-old Jay Wells, who quit Defiance College in Ohio after a semester. He lives with his mother and delivers pallets of soda for Coca-Cola Co. in Toledo for $20 an hour.

    “I’m sort of waiting for a light to come on so I figure out what to do next,” he said.

    Solid, reliable employees are hard to find. If he busts his ass and shows his worth then chances are he start working his way up at the delivery company. He’ll learn about logistics, purchase orders, fleet maintenance, fuel costs, etc. and be a valuable asset. You know, the old fashioned way.

    1. Jesper

      I’d say that decent managers are harder to find than reliable employees.

      My experience has been that good managers tend to have good reliable employees while the bad managers complain endlessly about their workers and the difficulty of finding and retaining good workers.Good managers might not even have to look for employees, word of mouth spreads and once they have a job-opening their existing employees will have recommendations ready for someone to hire.

      Bad employers on the other hand…. I was recently contacted by an employer, this employer ‘allowed’ office-workers to work from home duing the beginning of COVID. ‘Allowed’ is due to the government lockdown. Those workers were then told to work five day weeks as usual but use a vacation day from their vacation-time every week. Wage-theft is what comes to mind. The person who told me about how they treated their employees is someone I trust so I told them I was not interested to work for them due to the reputation they have about how they treat their employees.

      Some say that the workers who can’t find a job should take a good look at themselves and assess what they might be doing wrong, I’d say the same thing to companies and managers who can’t find good employees. Find out if there is something that makes good employees stay away.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Being a go-getter might not help except with the owner or bosses far enough away to not be threatened. Precarious management doesn’t want to be outshined. Then the owner isn’t family, so an idiot nephew almost always has the inside track.

  14. Nordberg

    I read a book called “Boys adrift” and Leonard Sax proposes that the lack of not wanting formal schooling starts in kindergarten. When girls are better able developmentally to sit still and pay attention.The author’s advice was if your kids favorite subject in kindergarten is recess, best to hold him back and start first grade a year later. He also believes, as mentioned in the article, the over prescription of ADD meds really has a lasting negative effect on motivation and ambition. I wish I had read it when my now 8 year old was in kindergarten.

    1. Arizona Slim

      What would be so terribly wrong with putting more activity into the school day? Not just during gym class or recess but during class time?

      A few months ago, an NC-er posted about having the class run laps while reciting the multiplication tables. Alas, this poor teacher got a talking-to for doing such a thing. IMHO, that teacher deserved a medal.

      1. Nordberg

        Agree with you there Slim. We were all set to send my kid to public school until we saw he would only get one 15 minute recess and gym only twice a week. We are lucky in that we could send him to a private school that “gets boys”. Recess twice a day and gym 4 days a week. Also wiggle breaks as needed.

  15. mwbworld

    What’s interesting and tragic is something I noticed today on the subway which caused me to look it up.

    It was an AD for Selective Service saying that men who don’t register can’t get financial aid in college (and they listed some extremely high number of financial aid denied men because of it.) And I thought wow that’s harsh and I wonder if that is yet another factor in this.

    I looked it up and sure enough true. You can’t ever get if you didn’t register by age 26 so no later in college for you either. And apparently those men aren’t eligible for federal jobs and other government aid. And I’ve never seen much discussion about it. I did find one article in USA Today from a couple of years ago.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      It’s been this way for at least half a century. Since there is no draft, it’s just an activity 18 year olds do on their birthday such as buy scratchers and cigarettes.

  16. Questa Nota

    Surely there must be some longitudinal study about the topic.
    Annotations would be eye-opening.
    Young men face many barbs and may need a pat on the back.

  17. eg

    In Ontario, one in 5 students occupying a seat in our Community College (these are vocational post-secondary institutions) programs has already earned a University degree (most of which are 4 year programs).

    The average apprentice in the Province is 27 years old!

    I have a 16 year old son who will be taking one construction course on his timetable this year. Maybe this will spark an interest in the trades — certainly he has shown little aptitude for nor interest in “book learning”

    1. Arizona Slim

      When I was in my late forties and a new homeowner, I took construction classes at our local community college. A neighbor recommended them to me, and she simply couldn’t say enough nice things about them.

      Well, what an education. I went there wanting to understand how my house worked and also wanting to know how I could speak intelligently with the tradespeople I’d be hiring to help me fix the place up. I came away with a lot more.

      Most important, I learned a lot about working with my hands — and using my head so I do the work correctly — and that knowledge continues to pay dividends.

  18. Mike Elwin

    I think that, just because the (white) men interviewed didn’t talk about the general loss of moral standing that men are undergoing, is no reason to deny that the loss is impacting their choices.

    Also, my experience of my boomer friends with kids is that the kids see a bleak future at present and, at the same time, see that whatever choice they make now, they’ll probably have to make another choice in a decade or two, and then another choice a decade or two after that. That’s what their parents have done and what their own friends are doing already.

  19. Joe Well

    When I was a school teacher at an overwhelmingly non-white, working class/poor public middle school in the 00s, there was an unbelievable full-court press to encourage students to plan to attend a four-year college and become professionals, regardless of inclination or aptitude or availability of post-college jobs. Everyone can and must go to college was a mantra.

    I strongly suspect we are seeing racial inequality being perpetuated in favor of whites, in the form of white students with better access to information hearing that it is mostly a scam that will ruin their lives through debt. Already, the student debt crisis is disproportionately affecting poorer and Black students.

  20. Mike Elwin

    I just told my wife about this article. Her response was that this trend has already shown up in high school. Boys don’t do as well in academics as girls do, partly because of general developmental issues but mostly because girls are working harder at succeeding in school than boys are.

    Certainly boys didn’t used to have to work as hard to succeed, and I guess they haven’t adapted yet to their new lower status.

    1. Edward

      Isn’t there supposed to be a problem with students using Aderall? Such conclusions would need to take into account the use of drugs.

  21. Pete

    I have multiple degrees and such and make a decent living using my advanced education. The jobs I enjoyed most were summer jobs involving physical labor, including at a foundry, in logistics, and construction.

    During the Great Recession, I met a few people who went to law school when it hit. When they graduated, they couldn’t find jobs and told everyone they knew to avoid law school.

    I am encouraging my sons to avoid college. One is on track to be a fireman. I have highly recommended the union trades as well.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Good move, Pete.

      And let me tell you something about firefighters. A lot of them had amazing trade skills and they’re more than willing to teach those skills to their fellow firefighters. Your firefighter son is going to learn SO much.

      BTW, the union trades are also a solid path. A former neighbor’s father was a union carpenter. According to this neighbor, his father ALWAYS had work.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        My cousin’s husband was a firefighter, but when their daughter was 11 she told her dad she couldn’t deal with him being a firefighter anymore. He’s a true blue hero relative to firefighters. These arent heroics because he’s an idiot who was lucky. Fortunately for him, the firefighters bounced back and forth in those trades and taught and supported each other. He’s been running a successful small construction firm for 10 years now. For plenty of firefighters, the day will come where they have to stop and earlier than the expect.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      My dad was a corporate attorney for over 40 years with some private practice time. He’s been telling people for years to not become attorneys because there are too many and many of the jobs needed to make private practices work are done in Legal Zoom type factories, putting more pressure on the existing jobs. Then there is the decline in medium sized companies, and their legal expenses. The idea we would export legal expertise was always as dumb as dumb as it sounds.

      Recessions aside, the ranks of lawyers grew at a rate that isn’t sustainable. The Supremes said the ABA couldn’t control the supply of lawyers. Schools opened law schools instead of medical schools. In the 19th century, leeches cost the same as a law book, so it worked itself out. On their own, the prestige and money gain from a law school simply dwarf the gains from a medical school relative to investment. With medical schools, you have to do stuff like run industrial refrigerators for morgues and find cadavers. I’m sure its more advanced, but it requires way more than a subscription to JSTOR.

  22. King

    When I was in high school in the early 2000’s a big reason given for going to college was the increased average lifetime earnings (~$1mil?). In the same sitting there would also be information about student loans. Even back then it seemed clear, the loan sharks want it all!

    Taking a long term bet on a decades old data set implies a great deal of consistency between very different cohorts. One would have to abandon a lot of the ideas of ‘transition to service economy’ and progress to expect this sort of financial advice to make sense. A few people would even give caveats that this was the case but for the most part there was no benefit to pointing out how uncertain these predictions were.

    After another twenty years of experience and data its more clear.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Every time I read about the greater average lifetime earnings for college graduates I wonder how the numbers were created. Even without concern about loans, how many college graduates are working in areas even remotely related to their degrees. Of those working in their chosen area — I wonder how many managed to work in their chosen area for an entire working career. I remember the mass layoffs after we put footsteps, tire tracks, and some flags on the moon. What happened to all those scientists and engineers? How do the statistics handle the periods of unemployment and possible reeducation so many workers, including college graduates, must endure and what about the costs of moves to follow work or the costs of divorce when there is no work? I also wonder about the meanings of average numbers even median numbers as means for characterizing a population as diverse as college graduates.

  23. Jeremy Grimm

    I do not understand the concern that a record level of American men are foregoing college. I would think it should be a concern that so many American women are continuing on to college. It is the more expensive and long-term problem of the two. I wonder why anyone continues on to college after education at a college oriented high school. I believe American public education has adopted the spirit of the slogan posted above the blackboard in Miss Honey’s classroom to mollify the Trunchbull: “If you are having fun, you are not learning.” I suppose the Wall Street Journal might be concerned about damage to income streams in the Education Industrial Complex although the story — with others like it in the Media — does nicely setup pleas for more H-1B Visas.

    I attended college many decades ago following a decade of waves of men who attended to learn aerospace engineering so they could take part in the race to the moon. Of course the second half of that decade included a large number of young men taking other majors and advanced degrees in subjects — like anthropology — as a way to hold on to their student deferments. If the lack of young men attending college is really of concern the Government could sponsor a massive effort to achieve something transcendent and at the same time bring back the military draft — including deferments for college — while ramping up one of our endless pointless wars to levels where there will be a decent level of horrific casualties and deaths among our noble youth.

    Somewhere, somehow, I believe the purpose for higher education has been lost. Higher education is not job training and it is a poor way to sort out ‘merit’.

    1. KD

      There are traditional women’s colleges, and they have their place, but most women want to go to a college with an ample supply of men, and it hurts female enrollment if male enrollment falls below around 40% as far as female applicants.

      The real concern is that if the men leave, and colleges are struggling to remain even 40/60, the women will follow, and then higher education is in for a really hard landing, on top of a demographic decline.

      Not to mention, guess who make the best $$$ alumni donors?

  24. Synoia

    Since manufacturing has moved to China, and others, what has that done to male careers?

    What are the traditionally male career options now? Finance, Military, High Tech and the Trades.

    Any male with a technical bent would head for the trades.

    It would be interesting to see a graphical comparison between the decrease in Manufacturing jobs and Male college attendance.

    1. Hayek's Heelbiter

      You’re absolutely right!
      As Belkin observed, it is easier for social scientists to blame videogames, porn and single moms for declining male college enrollment than cross-reference harsh statistics or conduct interviews with actual members of the cohort.
      O dear wise ones in NC land, can you enlighten us as to whether such studies have actually been done?

  25. Synoia

    Since manufacturing has moved to China, and others, what has that done to male careers?

    What are the traditionally male career options now? Finance, Military, High Tech and the Trades.

    Any male with a technical bent would head for the trades.

    It would be interesting to see a graphical comparison between the decrease in Manufacturing jobs and Mal college attendance.

  26. Greg Taylor

    Male high school graduation rates are 5-8% lower and the gender gap is at least as wide at higher high school GPA levels. Admission standards for males at most liberal arts colleges have been far lower for decades, limiting the gender gap to 60-40 for residential living purposes.

    Many 18 yr olds go to college to gain admission to a competitive program or a license-based field in health care, education, engineering or accounting. Job prospects are good for those who succeed. The disproportionately male students admitted into the bottom half of their university classes won’t have access to these competitive academic programs and will end up debt-laden with weak employment prospects.

  27. Glen

    As a country we’ve wrecked good public educations so what did we expect?

    And for the young people in my life who want a good college education, I have started to recommend going someplace where the education is free, and then staying there for a better career and life.

    This is an easy problem to fix – do what has been traditional in America: good free public higher education at state colleges and universities.

    And wipe out existing student debt.

    The handwriting is even more on the wall, if you do not act now, the American healthcare system and others will collapse due to a lack of qualified people to do the work. We are literally working them to death and have done nothing to ensure we have more people entering the careers required to support the institutions.

    1. Edward

      This country has depended on the immigration of skilled professionals to perform some important jobs. If America ceases to be an attractive destination for immigrants, or even faces a brain drain, these issues will become even worse.

      I think the demise of public education started under the Reagan administration.

  28. Bazarov

    I have more than a decade of experience teaching reading and writing at a major American university. During my first year teaching, when I was still getting my bearings, I noticed that my best students were women. This trend has intensified–I get young men in my class who’s writing is gibberish and who’s reading comprehension is so bad, they could not be called literate at the adult level.

    Moreover, the men seem spiritually adrift. They have no idea why they’re being asked to read an essay. Why are we reading? Why are we writing? No one in their lives ever took the time to try to answer these questions, and it falls to me to help them see the value in these practices, among the most essential to civilization.

    My first lessons are about the power of reading and writing. The essays I assign are chosen specifically because they cut against received wisdom, demonstrating the radical, exciting breadth of ideas that make up our collective intellectual heritage. In high school, they’re assigned readings that say the same things over and over again, making intellectual and spiritual life seem like a stultifying dead end (this is the point–most schools in America exist to reproduce worker drones and greatly discourage critical thought; what good is a serf who can talk back?).

    It’s amazing how a ray of light can coax these young men to bloom. I’ve had students go from hating even the thought of reading an essay at the beginning of the course to asking me for reading lists at the end!

    So, why the gap between men and women? The answer is simple: women are still reading in their free time. Very few of my male students read books unless they’re forced to. During office hours, I’ll ask my students what they like to read–a large minority of the women rattle off classic, subtle, challenging works by the likes of Jane Austin, the Bronte sisters, Willa Cather, Carson McCullers, etc.

    Almost all the young men answer that they don’t read in their spare time. When I do get a male reader, they’re usually of one of two types:

    1.) Sensitive and gay.

    2.) Sensitive and nerdy. They read science fiction or fantasy (I love science fiction).

    Both of these types, rare birds, tend to do much better than their male peers, though not as good as their female counterparts.

    The problem is cultural and can be solved by reforming education such that it represents an honest exploration of the intellectual and spiritual ferment that is the literary heritage of 2000+ years. Unfortunately, this prescription is like telling the cancer patient that the solution to their problem is to “Just not have cancer!”

    As per Bertrand Russell in his “Education as a Political Institution” (one of the essays I’m fond of assigning), the system instructs students with what’s beneficial to the state and to the class who controls the state. From their perspective, the education system is doing great! It’s producing gullible, apathetic citizens easily susceptible to “divide and conqueror” tactics and incapable of communicating sensitively with anyone outside their narrow social bubble (thus they’re politically buffoonish).

    Young people, in their hearts, know they’re being failed–even if they’re incapable of articulating precisely how. They grow up into lonely spiritual darkness. That’s what I see in my male students especially. They just need a little bit of light! I do my best, as a teacher, to illuminate.

  29. rjs

    my nephew skipped the college route to become an insurance adjuster, now he’s in management..

    i never went to college either, and one of the jobs i had was teaching IBM’s mainframe software to those who did…

    1. skippy

      My eldest son 25 wanted to go to Uni, but History is a big risk with the debt that comes with it down the road. He’s now in the top 5% of a company with around a 100K employees globally and the next leg up is ops manager. Seems instilling problem solving and a good perspective for understanding what ones observes from an early age has more benefits than some narrow certificate of achievement.

      Same goes for the other 3 kids …

      Off to my 1930s two story lower brickie upper weatherboard stucco house job … the joy I get in transforming such domiciles from tired to glorious is quite the thing, ecstatic owners, walker bys commenting, and seeing them often within a year or so as I do another house on the same street. In this case the Husband is off on a pacific island assisting with teaching the local government how to run its financials and yes I’ve dropped NC and Co in conversations …. which always begs the questions … so how did you get into painting again – ???? … lmmao~~~~

  30. Dave in Austin

    This has been the most illuminating comments section in a long time because it drew out individual decisions and some of the less-palatable truths. I’ve been watching the slow gender change in colleges for 50 years but I didn’t realize how radically Covid had accelerated the process. My comments:

    The trades are open to both genders. Women, in general, like clean, indoor jobs with a nice social life; men enjoy doing things with their hands, getting out of doors and getting dirty. Even in China the factories are filled with young women and the construction sites with young men.

    Steve Jobs and Microsoft Bill both left college. Our various monopoly jobs (law, medicine, architecture, teaching) measure inputs, not outputs, so Abe Lincoln would now have to put in 15 more years of schooling before he could “qualify” to take the Bar exam, which measures what you know- an output. If we wanted to “rectify” the shortage of white wide receivers in the NFL it would be easy; require a BA/BS from an accredited four year college and a two year professional degree in Wide Receiver Studies… and stop letting half-literates into the NFL just because the can run 40 yards blindingly fast, were the toughest, hardest working kids in their high school and are willing to put up with a lot of pain.

    Inputs and outputs. Girls are quiet (in public) and do what they’re told in school. So they get better grades. When it comes to standardized tests, boys do well even though all ETS test questions are now checked to make sure they give the “right” gender breakdown (Don’t believe me? I was in the business). In a class where the only issue should be subject mastery, why should homework ever be counted? Some of the best computer people I know never got a degree. Why? Because their production can be measured. Most of them got their moral education from reading Sci-Fi and Fantasy

    College. Administrative bloat and absurd rules are everywhere. And much of this is “required” by well meaning, social engineers getting the government to impose rules. Is there a better example of regulatory capture than the Student Loan fiasco? I actually believe in a liberal arts education; I got a pretty good one. But so did Lincoln by reading books and arguing with friends.

    If good liberal arts colleges are anything other than finishing schools and dating pools, why should a school ever discriminate in order to keep the “correct” gender proportions in classes? Not only does that appear to be illegal but also it only applies sometimes; not in nursing schools, for example.

    If we ever stop low-end immigration the nursing home workers (almost all women) and construction workers are going to be a lot better paid. It amazes me when I hear a college grad say “But I just can’t find decent workers!”. Econ 101; if something is in short supply the price goes up while the price for things in oversupply (like anthropology majors) goes down.

    The market is a wonderful, terrifying thing. Colleges are learning what General Motors learned when people started buying VWs and Toyotas instead of Chevys.

      1. jg

        Is it possible you were an exception? Wouldn’t that type of gender behavior follow a bell curve? It’s anecdotal, but I see that general behavior described by Dave in Austin in my children’s school, and to a large degree, with my own children.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          To a fair degree, but I think a lot of this “demure girls” business is nurture, not nature. I have come to realize that I received zero, and I mean zero, girl programming at home (including NEVER “When you grow up and have kids,” instead “When you grow up and have a job.”) and therefore had friction when I went to school and was assumed to have gotten it. For instance, I managed to get expelled from kindergarten the first day, for instance, for not following instructions because I thought they were stupid (and running up to the blackboard, yelling “Charge” to erase them). And my parents were amused rather than horrified.

  31. Greg Taylor

    If good liberal arts colleges are anything other than finishing schools and dating pools, why should a school ever discriminate in order to keep the “correct” gender proportions in classes?

    Students are far less interested in living on campuses that are predominately female. If admissions officers don’t discriminate and then report over 60% females living on campus, they’ll end up attracting far fewer and less qualified applicants in future years. More selective residential liberal arts schools will admit less than 55% females, a ratio that appears to be sustainable and desirable from the perspective of the colleges.

    Schools allocate dorm spaces by gender. That may legalize the discrimination for residential students. I’m not sure if there is gender discrimination in non-residential student admissions or how it might be justified.

    Most nursing/health sciences schools are attached to a university and have separate admissions standards. You’ll need a few semesters of college coursework before applying to most nursing programs. Their admissions criteria have little to no impact on the gender balance in the dorms or the desirability of campus life.

  32. Andrew Watts

    I didn’t formally attend college because of the FBI. Although being 50k in debt at 8-12 percent interest sounded like a bad idea at the time. Just as I was making the decision in the summer of 2004 I saw a press release from the FBI that was warning of widespread mortgage fraud at a local newspaper office. I called the phone number and asked if this was happening in a geographically concentrated area like California or Florida. The FBI press officer was kind enough to answer that it was nationwide. Memories of Galbraith’s Crash of ’29 came rushing into my brain and I had the presence of mind to ask if this was concurrent with a widespread increase in applications. To which the response was non-committal, but a probable yes.

    This was the first indication that there was going to be a financial crisis. I probably would’ve graduated into it in 2008 if I wasn’t bored that day waiting for a friend. None of my friends had full-time jobs until 2013 whether they were credentialed or not. That thread led all the way to nakedcapitalism in ’07 while looking for information about MBS and derivatives. Prior to all that my high school offered several courses that were audited by the local community college. I took just about every class that would net me credits at $5-10 per credit.

    Where my decisions have left me in life is completely debt-free. It doesn’t matter that I work menial or low-paying jobs because I don’t have any payments to make beyond monthly expenses. I’m poor but I still save money every month. More importantly the people in my life have stop telling me I’m not living up to my potential or underachieving… since 2015 or so.

  33. P.brown

    College discriminate against working class men of euro decent. Who needs to be abused? Had enough of that in public school.

  34. Scott1

    The years thought to be available for youths to go find themselves are not there anymore, if they ever were. Young people therefore must go on past high school to Community Colleges. After Community College it is ideal if they go on to at least one year of University. They need to make friends that they can either give jobs to or that will give them work. Human Resources have to hire people with degrees to justify the time they spent getting their degree, plus they don’t understand experience. Whatever tests one might take years after whatever schooling one did get one won’t do very well at. We tend to forget those things we don’t need to know, don’t really apply. There are plenty of artists who would have made fine engineers. My own daughter took another route. She took the advise of her high school counselor and took the job she was set up for, liked it, was appreciated and has been apprenticed. She lives in a City that has industries with a need for her skills. You may gain great skills that are in no demand in the City where you live.
    I see in the medical fields many positions are filled by persons from other countries. Americans may be finding that they are priced out of educations that demand 8 years of instruction. Corporate conglomerated medical units may well want persons from other countries more than Americans who come with expectations.
    It is definitely better to become somehow educated enough to get work you are somewhat suited for and can do for at least a decade when you are starting your life out. “Twenty years goes by in the blink of an eye.” “What’s practical for you may not be practical for anyone else.” -RSD
    Yes there is work for carpenters, but it is fraught with its own dangers. Any work that requires a strong body tends to tear that body up.

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