Why Are Girls Surpassing Boys in College Achievement?

By Matthew Lynch

Nationally, over 57 percent of college attendees are female when public and private school stats are combined. Females have been consistently edging ahead of their male classmates since the late 1970s when the percentages flip-flopped. Aside from all-female schools, there are others that have marked disproportionate numbers. Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena has nearly 96 percent females in attendance, and the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center in Memphis has over 93 percent. At Indiana University Northwest, located just outside Gary, 67 percent of the student population is female.

These statistics beg the question: What are K-12 educators doing wrong when it comes to preparing young men for a college education?

It Starts before College

According to Dr. Leonard Sax, too many boys are struggling in schools today. Sax proposes that five factors are responsible for the decline in school performance among boys: video games, prescription drugs, endocrine disruptors, devaluation of masculinity in popular culture, and teaching methods.  Sax and many others believe that video games disengage boys from real-world pursuits. Mind-numbing keyboards and flashing images have a seductive effect on the brain.  Medication for ADHD may be damaging motivational centers in boy’s brains, and the harmful effects of estrogens from food and plastic containers are upsetting the balance of boys’ endocrine systems.  The athletic, scholarly male TV heroes of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s have been replaced with Bart Simpson. These and other shifts in modern culture are responsible for devaluing traditional masculine strengths.  Additionally, Sax claims that the ways in which children are being educated today simply turn boys off from schooling.

Males who are completing a four year degree take longer than women to do so, and tend to socialize more in college, study less than women, and have poorer grades. The difference in male-female college/university enrollment reflects performance differences that are evident well before college attendance.

Money aside, there are other pitfalls in a disproportionate number of men going to college. Statistics show that marriages where the couples have differing education levels more often end in divorce than couples with the same educational achievements. And even before divorce is an option, women who set college educational goals may not want to settle for men with less motivation – at least when it comes to academics. If this trend continues, social dynamics may be impacted.

Minority Men Even Worse Off

The problem escalates when race is taken into account.  Recently, the Black Star Project published findings that just 10 percent of eighth-grade Black boys in the U.S. are considered “proficient” in reading. In urban areas like Chicago and Detroit, that number was even lower. By contrast, the 2013 National Assessment of Education Progress found that 46 percent of white students are adequate readers by eighth grade, and 17 percent of Black students as a whole are too. The achievement gap between the two races is startling, but the difference between the NAEP report on Black students as a whole and the Black Star findings of just Black boys is troubling too. It is not simply Black children in general who appear to be failing in the basics – like literacy; it is the boys.

So, we must ask ourselves why boys seem to be falling behind academically?  More importantly, what steps need to be taken in order to reverse this trend?

photo credit: Adikos via photopin cc

Click here to read all our posts concerning the Achievement Gap.

0 Replies to “Why Are Girls Surpassing Boys in College Achievement?”

  1. This article makes me really sad, as I have a young son who is on medication for ADHD. I really really hope we can find ways to help more males in this country go to college.

  2. Men, especially minority men, are really struggling when it comes to college attendance and achievement. There are a lot of factors that contribute to the reasons why girls are surpassing boys. As a country, we need to prioritize figuring out and acting on ways to help encourage boys to attend college – and stick with it through graduation.

  3. Girls are surpassing boys, the statistics show that clearly. I think some of it may be because there are a lot of other career paths males can follow to go on and get great jobs and lead successfully lives. It seems like women pursue fewer skilled trade careers.

  4. One of the main reasons why girls are surpassing boys in education is the simple fact that girls mature three to five years earlier than boys. A five year old girl in kindergarten is equal to at a minimum a 8 year old boy. the boys are disadvantaged because they can not or should not be expected to be able to keep up with girls who are three to five years more mature.

    A second reason girls are surpassing boys in education is because girls are being told that there is an old boy’s net work in the work place so if they don’t out perform boys in education they won’t get their fair share of high paying jobs.The operative words are “Out perform” doing just as well as boys isn’t good enough.thus girls are fear motivated that if they don’t out perform boys in education they won’t get their fair share of high paying jobs. This fear motivation causes girls to work harder. thus by being fear motivated and having a maturity advantage girls are out performing boys. thus the solution is find a way to fear motivate our boys.

    this can be done by informing boys that if they want to have relationships with girls they must out perform girls so that they can get the best jobs. If girls out perform them girls will get the best jobs and once girls start making more money they regard the males not making as much money as weak men and women aren’t attracted to weak men. males will do anything and everything to get the girl. Once they realize girls are out to out perform them and they will loose the girl boys will become fear motivated that they will be regarded as weak men if they don’t out perform girls. Believe me get this idea planted in male minds and watch them go.

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