It’s raining men? Not so at Gavilan College

Gilroy
– They’re disappearing across college campuses nationwide and
from a college near you: Men.
For the past five years Gavilan College, researchers have
noticed a trend in its student enrollment: Fewer males are
attending Gavilan than ever before. And the problem doesn’t appear
to have a solution.
Gilroy – They’re disappearing across college campuses nationwide and from a college near you: Men.

For the past five years Gavilan College, researchers have noticed a trend in its student enrollment: Fewer males are attending Gavilan than ever before. And the problem doesn’t appear to have a solution.

“We routinely keep track of the demographic of students and make note of any trends,” said Terrence Willett, Gavilan’s director of research. “And we’ve noticed a slight decrease in males – it’s actually happening across the country.”

Willett believes the reasons may be monetary.

“There is a lot more economic incentive for females than males,” he said. “In general, males tend to make more money than females, so the male is going to be able to make more money over less time.”

The time required to earn a degree is a short term delay in cash flow – and males may opt out because they can or because they have dependents who cannot wait for the long term benefits of higher education.

Women represent 63 percent of Gavilan’s current student body. Their enrollment has increased three percent over five years. But despite representing more than 60 percent of the campus, women only account for 25 percent of the student-athletes.

Females dominate classes like biology and chemistry, and have crossed over into the business world – comprising 65 percent of accounting courses.

“Originally we thought, are we doing something to discriminate against males, are we doing something wrong?” Willett said. “But Gavilan matches federal and state demographics. The only explanation I’ve seen put out is the economic one – and that’s a little bit out of our hands. But you don’t want to ignore the problem, or not view it as a problem.”

Lucia Aguilar-Navarro works in Gavilan’s Outreach Services and Recruitment department, visiting area middle schools and high schools talking to students about going to college.

“A lot of students for whatever reason, have become disillusioned with education. I tend to think that because kids are having a tougher time in school – (more) boys are enlisting in the military. I don’t think I’ve heard any girls say, ‘I’m going into the Air Force,'” she said. “When I ask kids why they aren’t going to college a lot of kids say, ‘I have to go to work right away.’ I think a lot of kids think (college) is not an option for them.”

Aguilar-Navarro’s job is to convince these particular students that higher education is an option.

“You need a minimum of an associate of arts to meet minimum living expenses,” she said. “For more comfort you need to work towards a bachelors.”

Gavilan provides students with a more affordable way to complete the first two years of college than attending a four-year program, she said. Gavilan College also offers its students on-campus tutors and individuals who help students fill out financial aid forms and apply for scholarships.

“Kids are so restricted in high school – they feel they’re being watched,” Aguilar-Navarro said. “I think they’re rebelling against that.”

Willett has one more theory to explain the male mystery.

“The cause could also be ‘overcompensation’ for the way academia was run in the past – as traditionally male dominated,” he said. “It could be another 100 to 200 years before it evens out.”

And female students don’t seem to mind.

Just ask 19-year old linguistics student Brenden Knapp.

“Honestly, I never noticed before,” she said.

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