LANSING, Mich. — There are a lot more women enrolled at Central Michigan University than men. The ratio last fall was three to two.
Which doesn't surprise Anne Hornack, who has been an educational leadership professor at CMU for the past 13 years. Across the country, the number of men enrolling in college has been dropping. Michigan is no exception.
"Our number of men, boys and men graduating from high school has gone down, down, down, down, with the biggest numbers being in our black and Hispanic populations," she said.
Which is part of the reason why enrollment at Wayne State University is 59% women and 41% men. At Grand Valley State University, it's 61 percent to 39 percent. At Oakland University, it's 57 to 43.
Not every Michigan university has that sort of gender imbalance. Michigan State University's student body is 51% women. The University of Michigan is 50-50, and Western Michigan University has slightly more men.
But according to the most recent data from the state's education dashboard, across the state, 52% of undergraduates at public universities and community colleges were women, compared to 42% men. About 5% of students didn't report their gender.
"I noticed that at least as a Latinx person, it's always engraved that males should step away from higher education and focus more on trades, or that kind of route," said Kevin Bautista-Mancilla, a senior at CMU and one of Hornak's students.
This is overall trend isn't new. In a recent study by The Brookings Institution gathered high-school graduation rates in 37 states from 2016 to 2019. They found that in every state girls are graduating high school at a higher rate than boys.
"There's a lot of different factors that go into that, a lot of social pressures, peer pressures, looking at possibly not feeling like they have as many opportunities as others," said Heather Findley, director of mental health at Holt Public Schools. "We want our graduate ration rate to be 100 percent. But there has been a decline, yes."
But the pandemic seems to have accelerated the trend. Across the country, the number of men enrolled in college dropped by more than 5 percent in the fall of 2020 compared with the prior year, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Women's enrollments dropped by less than 1 percent.
When asked if more women attending college is simply a fact or a problem, Hornak said, "There's value in having gender diversity. When we think about solving our most complex problems in society, we don't want like a team of individuals, that all look the same, think the same, act the same."
But men deciding not to continue their education is likely to have an impact on their long-term economic success.
The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce predicts that, by 2027, 70% of jobs will require education beyond high school.
And, even with rising tuition costs, college graduates still end up in a far better financial position on average than those who don't have a degree.
"I would hope for things to be equal, but they're not," said Findley. "So just as long as they find their path in a way that feels fulfilling to them, and it feels like they are getting the most out of life."