On Tuesday, January 24th Admissions Live hosted Eric Felix, Admissions Counselor at the University of San Diego. Eric has been in higher education the past five years now. He has spent much of his time involved in college outreach programs. More recently, he is focusing on equity, access, and student success.

While the gender gap in higher education is not a new challenge, it is a resilient trend with added layers in today’s educational climate. In the following transcript from Tuesday’s show, Eric sheds light on this issue and its effects on higher education today. In addition to the widening gender gap, the educational challenges for men of color specifically are of national concern and are demonstrated very clearly in this short video from the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center. Please watch.

Taken from the live broadcast, January 24, 2012.

Ashley: Why are we here discussing this topic today? How did you become interested in this topic?

Eric:  I’ve been working in higher education for five years now. I’ve always been motivated and passionate about college outreach programs. Over the last few years my focus has been on equity, access, and success. Working and doing my graduate program at one of the largest state universities in California, I didn’t realize the gender imbalance. After transitioning to a smaller private institution the gender gap was extremely visible.

As I hit the road this past year I began to notice less and less male students attending my high school visits and also less stopping by at college fair booths. Though anecdotal, the missing men phenomenon was an issue that grew into concern. In talking with colleagues at similar institutions on the west coast we began to have discussions, share research and find best practices to identify, recruit, and enroll men. Just as we would utilize other recruiting strategies for other student characteristics or enrollment goals we wanted to achieve.

What we are talking about today isn’t a new topic, but a re-surging issue with added layers. Today, we are not only focusing on the missing men, but missing men of color. It is my hope that this show encourages public discussion, shares research, and promotes best practices.

Projections:  By 2020 men will represent 41.1% of college enrollees.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics’ “The Condition of Education 2011”

Eric’s comments on the data:
In my experience the “urgency” of this phenomenon has followed the release of the American Council on Education’s “Gender Equity in Higher Education” reports originally released in 2000, updated in 2006, and 2010. In the latest the major takeaway was “stabilizing of the college gender gap.”

New research has emerged from a variety of organizations addressing the disparity in educational attainment between genders and offered recommendations

Ashley: The men who are represented in this data – If they are not attending college, where are they going?

Eric: There are fewer men graduating and fewer men deciding to go to college straight from high school. Many are considering other options – entering the workforce or military. They are also more likely to question value of college education and it’s affordability.

Those that are attending college straight from high school are choosing large “flagship” public institutions. These colleges haven’t faced the same issues as smaller private/public 4-year institutions. And most engineering or technical schools have the opposite problem

Ashley: How would you describe the higher ed landscape in relationship to gender? What is the admissions profession facing?

Eric: At a macro-level the landscape of higher education is defined by the current statistics and projections for the future.  At a micro-level, each institution has enrollment goals they are trying to meet. Every year we develop targets to recruit a freshman class with a variety of characteristics (usually dictated by the board of trustees, AVP, or campus community needs). These characteristics include religion, ethnicity, career interest, geographic location, and gender.

Ashley: What are the questions we need to be asking ourselves?

Eric: With a decreasing amount of college-ready men in the pipeline, what changes do we need to make? How do we do our job effectively to meet the enrollment goals of our institution and how will our recruitment practices/strategies need to change?

Is the target goal really 50/50? No. A critical mass is necessary but varies by institution type.

Ashley: I face the opposite challenge at my institution, where our gender imbalance is weighted nearly 60% male. If you are enrolling the women, and I am enrolling the men then why is it important to have have a gender balance in college?

Eric: Many reasons – There are certainly social and economic ramifications, perspective in the class, residence halls, not to mention Title IX.

Ashley: How do we face these challenges? What tools do we have at our disposal?

Eric discussed the following strategy considerations:
Remember the little things like including men in all photos, using gender neutral language and possibly an added emphasis on recreation and athletics. Considering marketing materials that generated specifically for men and delivered only to men may be the best tool, as this option will meet their need while not alienating or deterring women from applying.
Recruitment Travel
Consider strategic recruitment travel that will include more all-male high schools and visits with student groups or community based organizations. Consider – Young Black Scholars (100 Black Men), JROTC, Boy Scouts, Boys and Girls Club and NCAN.
Student to Student
Make sure to represent male students on campus that can act as role models for student success. Keep these considerations when hiring male tour guides, ambassadors and student blogger. Male groups on campus can also get involved in the recruitment process by providing outreach or representation during campus programs.
Transfer Students
Many male students are taking the community college or military service route to their Bachelor’s degree. Spend time making this process an easy switch.

University System of Georgia

African American Male Initiative (System-wide recruitment/retention)
Houston Community College
Minority Male Initiative
CUNY System
Black Male Initiative


Total fall enrollment in degree-granting institutions, by sex and attendance status: Selected years, 1970 through 2009 http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=98

Trends in Higher Education Infographic http://visual.ly/trends-higher-education-0?view=true

Percentage of high school dropouts among persons 16 through 24 years old (status dropout rate), by sex and race/ethnicity: Selected years, 1960 through 2009 http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d10/tables/dt10_115.asp

Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 1972–2009

Affirmative Action for Men (2006)

Redefining the Gender Gap (2008)

Gender Gap Stops Growing (2010) (See Viewer Comments Too)

College Gender Gap Appears to be Stabilizing (2010)

Infographic: An Inside Look at College Admissions Today

The Gender Gap in College: Maximizing the Developmental Potential of Women and Men

The Vanishing Latino Male in Higher Education

Masculinities go to community college: Understanding male identity socialization and gender role conflict

Why are so few Men of Color Graduating High School?


INIGRAL, the creators of the Schools App on Facebook. Check out their webinar series about how private social networks can increase yield and retention. That happens Wednesdays at 2pm Eastern time.  
, a Google-funded mobile game about going places, doing challenges and earning points.
How can you use SCVNGR to make your visit day experiences better? Learn how D’Youville College engages students through a fun game on their cell phones.
WELCOME TO COLLEGE, creators of web & mobile applications to help institutions measure their most critical recruitment tool, the college visit. Also home of MARV, the Mobile Automated Research Vehicle, who is building energy around the importance of college visits and gearing up for a very exciting few months traveling the country visiting High schools & Colleges.
ZINCH, the leader in social admissions.  It can cost over $80 to generate a single inquiry using traditional recruitment methods.  Zinch partners with over 1,000 colleges and universities to help them attract and enroll best-fit students using significantly more effective outreach methods.  Zinch is truly changing the way students and colleges find each other.  To learn more e-mail outreach@zinch.com or tweet @socialadmission

Book review by Bill Gates: Change .edu: Rebooting for the New Talent Economy http://bit.ly/AlickF
Common App. 4.0, coming in 2013 http://nyti.ms/wCJHXR
State Support for Colleges Falls 7.6% in 2012 Fiscal Year http://bit.ly/yrhCGc

Unsolicited Shout-out of the Week: Emily Okey, production assistant for the Live broadcast.


Article Author

Ashley Budd

Producer, Host of Higher Ed Special Edition
Assistant Director of Social Media Strategy, Cornell University

Ashley Budd is a digital strategist and designer based in upstate New York. She specializes in bringing offline experiences online. Ashley is assistant director of social media strategy at Cornell University serving Alumni Affairs and Development. Prior to joining the social media team at Cornell, Ashley spent more than five years in Enrollment Management and Career Services at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Ashley speaks about college admissions, digital fundraising, communication and media technologies.

  • http://twitter.com/samcoren Sam Coren

    Fantastic insights Ashley and Eric! While the academic community has been catering to girls for decades to strive for equal opportunities, one of the unintended consequences was perhaps sending the wrong message to boys. This has a ripple effect come time for students to figure out what they’ll do after high school. Hoping that schools will start empowering both genders equally in the future.

    Also, thanks for featuring StudentAdvisor’s infographic on admissions. :)

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  • http://learningtheory.homestead.com/Theory.html mayfieldga

    Until we begin looking at differential treatment from an early age and show just how
    our individual environments create different mental/emotional/social conditioning; how average stress is made up of layers of mental frictions that take up real mental energy, and how differential treatment creates real advantages for girls today, we will continue to be at a loss to explain the growing Male Crisis.  Please do not buy
    into the genetic models, for they will only make it much worse for Male students.

                The problem is more complex than school curriculum or boy chemistry.  The
    problem involves two entirely different treatments of Males and Females beginning as early as one year of age and increases in differential treatment through adulthood.  This is creating the growing Male Crisis in the information age.  The belief Males should be strong allows more aggressive treatment of Males beginning as early as one year.  This is coupled with much “less” kind, stable, verbal interaction and less mental/emotional/social support, knowledge, and skills for fear of coddling.  This increases over time and continued by society from peers and teachers to others in
    society.  This creates more social/emotional distance from parents and other authority figures who have knowledge; higher average stress that hurts learning and motivation to learn; more activity due to need for stress relief; more defensiveness and wariness of others further hindering emotional and social growth; and higher muscle tension (creating more pressure on pencil and tighter grip) that hurts writing and motivation to
    write. It creates much lag in development creating a learned sense of helplessness in school.  This differential treatment continues on through adulthood, almost fixing many Males onto roads of failure and more escape into more short-term areas of
    enjoyment.  Also the giving of love based on achievement that many Males thus falling behind academics then turns their attention toward video games and sports, risk taking to receive small measures of love/honor not received in the classroom. 

    Since girls by differential treatment are given more positive, continual, and close
    mental/emotional/social/ support verbal interaction and care from an early age onward this creates quite the opposite outcome for girls compared with boys.  The lower the socioeconomic bracket and time in that bracket the more amplified the differential treatment from a young age and increased in more differentiated over time.

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