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Grant’s Angle: Women and Men and the College Admission Divide

10 November, 2022
  In 2010, I wrote an op-ed piece, “Gender Divisions in College” (the headline shows its age), about the dominance of women at the undergraduate level. It appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the responses suggested that many readers were surprised by the data, even though the trend had been developing since at least 1980. How do things look in 2022? In the twelve years since that article appeared, the overall percentage of female students in four-year undergraduate programs and graduate schools has continued to grow, although slowly. Roughly 60% of the college students in the country are women, and the percentage is higher in graduate programs. The ratios in undergraduate programs continue to be distributed unevenly across the broad range of colleges and universities, but less so than they were a decade ago, when the shift was most visible in the smaller, private liberal arts colleges.  Recently, a colleague from a large public, urban university in the South with over 20,000 undergraduates and around 10,000 graduate students reported to me that their first-year class is 70% female. Admissions offices are not advertising these statistics. Minority-serving institutions also struggle to recruit and retain substantial numbers of qualified male students. One of the five largest historically black universities in the country has a current first-year class that is close to 78% female.  No one of these universities wants classes that skew so heavily female. Their ideal would be something closer to a representative 50:50 ratio. They have no choice but to lean strongly “affirmative” for men in the admissions process. And the results suggest that their total pools of applicants, including those who were denied admission and those who were admitted but chose not to attend, may hover well above 80% female. Strangely, one hears hardly any talk of this phenomenon even as the Supreme Court is hearing two cases involving so-called “affirmative action” at two leading U.S. universities: the University of North Carolina and Harvard University. More thoughts about that in coming articles.  – Grant   Grant Calder, a distinguished college counselor & consultant, calls them like he sees them. In his words, “I always read ‘the trade papers’, and the pieces I’m working on are not ones I have seen in mainstream publications (the Times, the Chronicle of Higher Ed, etc.). Bennett has always been the channel for me to voice them, and I think they may offer another way of thinking about opportunities in colleges/universities in the US & internationally. It is, after all about education for the kids and enriching their lives.”   Grant Calder has worked in College Consulting and Admissions Counseling for over 30 years and is Director of College Counseling at Friends’ Central School in Philadelphia, where he also teaches American History and German. In the past, he has taught at the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University in Philadelphia, and the Middlesex and Choate boarding schools in New England. Additionally, he was a guest teacher at the Evangelisches Gymnasium zum Grauen Kloster in Berlin, Germany.       At Bennett College Consulting, we honor the respect and the trust that our student clients and their families place in us, and we’re dedicated to helping them identify and gain admission to institutions that will be the best fit for them academically, socially, and culturally. We believe in the uniqueness of each student and are committed to providing professional and personalized guidance to each one we serve.