There is an increasing gap between female college students and their male counterparts in terms of college preparation, enrollment and graduation in the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) systems, according to a recent report by the Campaign for College Opportunity.
On average, women graduate at a rate of five to eight percent higher than males, according to the report. At CSUN, 62 percent of first-time freshmen graduates from the 2012-2013 school year were female while only 38 percent were male, according to the office of institutional research.
Debbie Simonson, professor of statistics at the Domincan University of California, said the work involved in college compared to the appeal of earning money quickly is less appealing to young men than women.
Simonson believes higher numbers of women graduate because they value the long-term rewards of a college education.
“I think women know it will be hard work, but realize that it is worth it in the long run,” said Simonson, who earned a degree in women’s studies at the University of North Florida. “Young men prefer the fast money of a job over the process of getting a degree.”
She said she feels young men don’t see the value in working hard to complete an education. “They won’t be disciplined enough to follow through on their studies,” Simonson said.
Women are enrolled in CSU colleges in greater numbers than men. In fall 2013, the total number of undergraduate women and men was almost 217,000 and 175,000, respectively, according to a report by the CSU.
The majority of students in 20 of the 23 CSU campuses are female. CSUN comes in at number 14 on the list of high female CSU enrollment, according to a 2012 Daily Sundial article.
In addition, the Campaign for College Opportunity report found that more women enroll as freshmen to Cal State schools, compared to men who enroll in California Community Colleges System (CCCS) in higher numbers.
Fifteen percent of women attend a CSU as a first-time freshman compared to 13 percent of men. At the community college level, 63 percent of males attend as first-time freshman, with no previous college credit, as opposed to 57 percent of women.
At CSUN, 55 percent of undergraduate students are female and 45 percent are male, according to U.S. News and World Report’s 2014 edition of Best Colleges.
Race is a factor
Men and women of the same race graduate at similar rates in the CSU system. The numbers fluctuate among men and women from separate races, according to a Campaign for College Opportunity study.
Of the four races discussed in the study, Latinos showed the largest percentage difference with 47 percent of women graduating compared to 39 percent of men. White women graduate at the highest rate at 61 percent, while only 55 percent of white men graduate.
The report also found that for every 100 Black women who graduate from a CSU, only 45 Black men do the same. Also, for every 100 Latina women that graduate, only 51 Latino men receive a degree.
Looking at young males
A report by the US Department of Health and Human Services found that boys have more behavioral problems because they mature and develop slower than girls. The report also found that boys are more likely to drop out of school, be expelled or become incarcerated.
Joseph Fucci, 21, senior child and adolescent development major, said maturity is one of the factors that contribute to the graduation gap.
“I think maybe women are just better students than men,” Fucci said. “They mature faster than guys and I think that has something to do with it, but that’s not the only reason.
Plus, women feel more pressure to graduate from college because they know they most likely won’t have as good opportunities in the job market without a college degree.”
More men than women drop out of high school and have lower rates in college enrollment, according to a 2008 report compiled by the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES).
The report found that girls said a possible reason why fewer boys make it to college is because girls outperform boys when it comes to homework and overall grades from kindergarten through college.
A study done by Ohio State University concluded that the graduation gap between men and women has nothing to do with women being more capable than men, but instead with the amount of effort that men and women put into their education.
Kinsey Egan-McGee, 21, senior communications major, believes that girls are taught from a young age to value school more than their male peers.
“In general, women are more motivated in the classroom from a young age for the reason that girls are more rewarded and pushed than boys when it comes to academics,” Egan-McGee said.
In 1962, 13 percent of high school graduates ages 25 to 29 received at least a bachelor’s degree, according to a 2011 Pew Research Center survey. The remainder either didn’t finish college or only had an associates degree. In 2010, the number of people with at least a bachelor’s degree rose to 32 percent.
The Pew study also found that 36 percent of all female graduates had received at least a bachelor’s degree compared to 28 percent of men.
Men are more wary of debt than women.
Research compiled by the Gender, Debt and Dropping Out of College study showed that finances are a big part of why there is such a large graduation gap.
The study found more men drop out of college for financial reasons because they believe debts caused by tuition are not worth the stress. Many men believe that they would be better off earning money and working than they would be getting a degree and having to pay off student loans.
Men who are skeptical about the cost of an education are more likely to jump right in to the workforce rather than worry about loans and financial aid, according to the study.
Cristal Alegria, 22, a senior majoring in sociology, is convinced that women are more encouraged to continue their education than men because of the way society values men and women.
“I feel that men might not value college as much as women because they know that no matter what, they’re going to succeed in life,” Alegria said. “They make more money just because they’re men.”
The study also found that women were more likely to finish school with a degree even if it meant having more debt.
A 2011 report done by the NCES proves that full-time male workers with a high school diploma earn an average of $40,000 per year while their female counterparts are only earning $30,000.
Although women now comprise the majority of the college graduates, they are still making less than men.
The same report showed that women with a bachelor’s degree make an average of $49,000 per year while men make an average of $66,000 a year.
Ariel North, 21, senior health administration major, thinks that a woman’s work ethic in school has a lot to do with the wage gap that graduates face once they enter the professional workforce.
“Men have a dominant role in the work industry, so in return women must excel in education to prove their worth,” North said.
“I think women value a college education more because we look at it as a necessity whereas men can begin their careers based on just the respect comes with being a man.”
The Campaign for College Opportunity study found that although there are more college-aged men in California than women, men are still less likely to get a bachelor’s degree, and even fewer men complete the bachelor’s degree within five years.
In addition, only 51 percent of all males graduate with a bachelor’s degree in five years compared to 57 percent of females, according to the NCES study.
Fucci believes men need to acknowledge that a college education will be to their benefit.
“I think men have gotten away with being over privileged for too long,” Fucci said. “They think that they can get by without a degree, but a high school diploma won’t cut it anymore. Once guys realize that they need a degree and that they can get scholarships and financial aid, hopefully the amount of men and women graduating will be more balanced.”