Let's talk about that gender ratio on Lee's campus
It is no secret that there's a widespread epidemic in American universities: men across the country are choosing not to go to college.
In 2013, according to Time Magazine, the gender ratio at universities in the U.S. was 57:43 women to men, which is 4 women to every 3 men. By 2023, it’s projected that there will be 3 women for every 2 men, widening the gap even further, but why?
According to the Pew Research Center, some have pointed to the idea that as labor market barriers have been lowered for women, the benefits of obtaining a college education have grown. Others believe the higher number of behavioral and school disciplinary problems among boys may be a factor. Research has also shown that men are more likely to go into the Armed Forces or to join the workforce immediately after graduating high school.
Where does this leave Lee University?
It's fairly common to hear someone talk about how the gender ratio of male to female students is abnormally out of balance, with females drastically outnumbering males. But this may not be as accurate as we think—and may change altogether in the coming years.
Admissions counselor Lauren Tyrell weighed in on how the prospect of growth in certain majors will hopefully start bringing in more men. She maintains that a fewer number of men on campus is not quite as dramatic a problem as students think.
“Yes, we do have a lot of girls on campus, so our ratio does line up with what people are saying about universities being more heavily populated with girls,” Tyrell said. “But the guy population is growing due to our investment in the growth of majors in the communications and business fields. So our largest enrolled population of men, major-wise, are in those majors right now.”
Tyrell pointed out that though the nursing major is keeping the female population high, there are plenty of men in that field as well.
"Not only is [the male population] growing because of the two largest departments we have on campus, but also because of the number of guys wanting to pursue the medical field,” Tyrell said.
But another reason may be the pressure to be involved on campus. Many students come to college because they're looking for the social experience that can only be found in a university setting.
According to Golden Madume, Career Counselor from the Center for Calling and Career, it could be that guys just aren't all that interested. Madume has been noticing that guys at Lee are considerably less engaged, compared to the involvement of the female population.
“You probably notice that in clubs and leadership opportunities, there are more girls that are engaged and want to be a part of it,” Madume said. “The [guys] that are here are very focused on school and all about getting their degree and getting out. They want to leave as fast as possible. They don’t seem to be as connected to the social network with the school or on campus.”
So why is it that men are so eager to leave that they might skip college altogether?
Gabe Rodriguez, a sophomore digital media student, said it's because he and his male peers have their futures on the forefront of their minds.
"We want to be able to make money quickly so that we can provide for ourselves, a wife or children—having families, having stability. The faster we graduate the faster we can have that,” Rodriguez said.
However, Rodriguez himself is in no rush to leave Lee before his time is up. On the contrary, he said the community offered at Lee has shifted his perspective completely.
“At first, I wanted a really quick major and to be able to graduate. Now I want to have experience and knowledge because Lee has been a place where I’m intentionally sought after for community,” Rodriguez said. “I feel like I matter, not just as someone who could potentially make money someday but as someone who can add value to our campus.”
Most would not argue with the idea that if someone is made to feel valued by a place or group of people, they will invest themselves in that community. Perhaps the solution to this epidemic is simply effective communication—not just about why a college education matters, but about why an individual matters to collegiate institutions.
In the meantime, liberal arts universities across the country will inevitably continue doing what they can to appeal to the guys.