Washington colleges have seen dwindling enrollment, especially among men amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Community and technical colleges experienced a combined 24% drop between fall 2019 and fall 2021, according to the Seattle Times. Public four-year institutions saw a drop in undergraduates of nearly 7% in that time period, with some school’s losing double or triple that.
Colleges like Lower Columbia College in Longview have seen women outnumbering men in enrollment. Their share of male students fell from 31% to 28% during the first year of the pandemic.
“We were a little student,” said Lower Columbia President Chris Bailey.
However Paul Francis, executive director of Council of Presidents, said the gender gap trend began years before the pandemic.
“We didn’t have a college-going culture to begin with, and the pandemic has made it worse,” he said.
While it’s not clear why there’s such a lackluster college attendance and what explains the gender gap, some stakeholders told the Times it could be attributed to changing ideas about college in the internet age and notions of masculinity. That’s in addition to complaints about college costs and student debts.
The Washington Roundtable is launching a study to answer some of these questions, according to its Vice President, Neil Strege.