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March 13, 2013

Young Men and College Attainment: What is "Fair"?

Inflammatory debate question of the day: with regard to the college attainment (graduation) rates of young men aged 25-34, what do you think would be an equitable/optimal result, and why?

Here are your choices. Please record your vote in the comments section:

1. College attainment rates should exactly mirror the relative proportions of men and women in the population. In other words, we don't care what the individuals involved aspire to - the only acceptable outcome is gender parity. This is essentially what feminists used to argue, before women inconveniently began to outperform men in some areas (thus depriving them of their former argument): if fewer women do X than men, that's a systemic problem that must be remedied. And if fewer men do X than women, that's also a system problem that must be remedied.

2. College attainment rates should reflect current market forces and the values and aspirations of individuals, be they male or female. Who cares whether more men or more women graduate from college? What matters is that people have the chance to pursue their own goals and order their own lives.

3. College attainment rates should remain the same over time, because they reflect the inherent differences between men and women. Men once earned the vast majority of college degrees. Their former dominance reflects inherent differences in ability between men and women. As these differences are inherent (and therefore unchangeable), it logically follows that the historic rate of college attainments for men and women should remain the same, relative to each other, over time.

4. The goal should be equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome. Men once earned the vast majority of college degrees. This unnatural imbalance was a reflection of differences in opportunity, not ability. Women's rising college attainment rates over time reflect their increased opportunity. So do men's rising college attainment rates.

5. Supply your own explanation and back it up.

Food for thought as you ponder the mysteries of life in an uncaring, zero sum world:

college_attainmentrates.png

CWCID.

More food for thought:

...even as their share of enrollment on college campuses declines, young men are actually more likely to attend and graduate from college than they were in the 1970s and 1980s. The share of men 25 to 29 who hold a bachelor’s degree has also increased, to 22 percent—a rate significantly higher than that for older cohorts of men. But the number of women enrolling in and graduating from college has increased much more rapidly during the same time period. The proportion of women enrolling in college after high school graduation, for example, increased nearly 50 percent between the early 1970s and 2001, and nearly 25 percent of women ages 25 to 29 now hold bachelor’s degrees.

While it’s possible to debate whether men’s college attendance is increasing fast enough to keep up with economic changes, it’s simply inaccurate to imply that men are disappearing from college campuses or that they are doing worse than they were 10 or 20 years ago. Men’s higher-education attainment is not declining; it’s increasing, albeit at a slower rate than that of women.

Posted by Cassandra at March 13, 2013 06:11 AM

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Comments

1. College attainment rates should exactly mirror the relative proportions of men and women in the population

A ridiculous notion starting at 'exactly'.

2. College attainment rates should reflect current market forces and the values and aspirations of individuals, be they male or female.

The default position; assuming of course market forces are just that and not, you know... nobbled.

3. College attainment rates should remain the same over time, because they reflect the inherent differences between men and women.

I don't get it.

4. The goal should be equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome.

Equality! Wait. Let me consult my anger management flash cards.

5. Supply your own explanation and back it up.

Because I'm right half the time and this just so happens to be one of those times.

Posted by: George Pal at March 13, 2013 11:23 AM

My opinion is that college graduation rates measured "at the top of the house" are completely worthless.

I'm not too terribly convinced they are worthwhile even after controlling for Majors/Minors, age of student, prospective industry, athletic involvement, desire in attending, etc.

A college degree is a consumer product like any other, yet we don't worry about whether women or men are buying more trucks.

We can argue that college is different because it opens up career opportunities later, but most studies between those with/without college degrees don't control for the difference between people who couldn't qualify and those that did but chose not to.

If I remember correctly, something like 7 out of 10 college graduates don't work in their major fields. This means that for most people, most of the knowledge imparted is wasted. What's useful is what might be able to be abstracted, and that the students can show up on time, do what they are told, and complete assignments in a timely manner.

It's an indictment of our primary educational system that a college degree is necessary to demonstrate the latter.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 13, 2013 11:42 AM

A college degree is a consumer product like any other, yet we don't worry about whether women or men are buying more trucks.

Yu-Ain:

You really, really need to get in touch with your Inner Occupier :D

/running away

Posted by: Cass at March 13, 2013 11:43 AM

Well, given that the typical Inner Occupier is 5 years old, touching *will not* be on the agenda. That's just creepy.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 13, 2013 11:51 AM

...given that the typical Inner Occupier is 5 years old, touching *will not* be on the agenda. That's just creepy.

I love you guys :)

Posted by: Cassandra at March 13, 2013 11:58 AM

Another factor that I have noticed is that there are more male geeks than female. Geeks can get pretty decent paying IT related jobs with no education at all, as long as they are competent in their field. Many male geeks choose to do just this.

Posted by: CAPT Mongo at March 13, 2013 12:18 PM

there are more male geeks than female. Geeks can get pretty decent paying IT related jobs with no education at all, as long as they are competent in their field. Many male geeks choose to do just this.

As long as they can stay employed and afloat, I'm fine with this, Capt. Mongo. I wouldn't want my sons to do that because I don't think it's a wise long-term strategy.

I'm in IT and I can tell you that not only do most employers want a college degree, they are selective about *which* school you attended. So if you choose not to get a degree, you're greatly narrowing the number of jobs you'll "qualify" for, rightly or not.

Unfortunately, the employer calls the tune on this one.

But I agree with you that it's quite possible to do well without a degree. In the aggregate, though, such a strategy is less likely to succeed.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 13, 2013 01:03 PM

So if you choose not to get a degree, you're greatly narrowing the number of jobs you'll "qualify" for, rightly or not.

The gambit also depends on what you are willing to accept as "entry level". An entry level analyst will require more than an entry level loan processor.

The question is whether you think you can earn that "entry level" analyst position within 4 years of taking that entry level loan processor job.

Maybe you can, maybe you can't. But that's the decision point

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 13, 2013 01:52 PM

Agreed that deciding not to get a degree can limit one's upward mobility. My experience suggests that upward (positional) mobility is not necessarily directly related to (1) Job satisfaction and/or (2) Take home pay. Plumbers, electricians and IT Techs are routinely paid better than some "managers".

Posted by: CAPT Mongo at March 13, 2013 07:01 PM

Thanks for sharing this. Education is very important. That is why, every individual should realize that having a good educational attainment is for them to have a better future.

Posted by: Erma Butts at March 18, 2013 10:24 PM

Women once earned same amount of degrees as men, google Homecoming of American College Women. However far fewer men and women went to college back then, something like 6 times more do so now. It's natural

"Men once earned the vast majority of college degrees. This unnatural imbalance was a reflection of differences in opportunity, not ability. "

Considering the fact that barring few maths and science courses, getting good grades is not dependent on your aptitude, college degrees aren't exactly reflective of ability, rather intelligence, but diligence.
The imbalance in sexes was more a reflection of ability if you take intelligence as the criteria. Opportunity if you consider the grade inflation and the worthless majors that most women go into.

Posted by: namae nanka at March 24, 2013 06:45 AM