The Incredible Shrinking Campus Male

September 28, 2021 Updated: October 6, 2021


A few months before his death, Walter Williams, the foremost columnist and professor at George Mason University, wrote, “The true tragedy is that so many Americans are blind to the fact that today’s colleges and universities pose a threat on several fronts to the well-being of our nation.”

While there are countless threats posted by colleges and universities, and it would require an entire book to discuss them all, one of the most alarming is the increasing gender gap between men and women at our nation’s colleges and universities, as reported a few weeks ago by The Wall Street Journal.

This gap is widening at an accelerating rate—and with it is coming some major ramifications for American society. This fall, nearly 60 percent of college and university students are women, and 40 percent men. In just over a half-century, the pendulum has swung wildly in the female direction, as the percentages were almost exactly reversed in 1969.

In fact, over the past 10 years, spring enrollment for men has fallen by more than 18 percent, and while total enrollment has been declining for years, the Journal reported that men made up 71 percent of the decline.

While I’m glad that more women are going to college and for the opportunities they have received that weren’t available 50 years ago, we’re now seeing numerous college-age men drifting through life without focus and purpose.

While many young men have chosen trade schools instead of college and are pursuing good jobs via that route, there’s a growing number of 20-something males who “fail to launch” into adulthood. They’re directionless, unable or unwilling to accept personal responsibility, engage in violent acts, or fall into increasing despair. In addition, they retreat into male caves, playing video games and getting inebriated, and don’t learn how to properly interact with the women they would meet either on campus or in a professional office setting.

As a result, many women in their 20s become increasingly frustrated with the inability to find men worthy of marriage—men who’ll be professionally successful, loving husbands, and responsible fathers. With a smaller pool to select from, they’re not meeting these types of men in college, and as a result, the average age of marriage for women is now 28 years old, long after they’ve graduated.

In my book “American Restoration,” I wrote that when young men find their purpose in life, they become disciplined and focused. They realize their lives aren’t their own. They come to model self-sacrifice and unconditional love around them. They become what’s called a “good citizen.”

They become gentlemen.

These are the traits that colleges and universities used to instill in young men. And they’re traits that are sorely missing today.

So, what went wrong? Why are men no longer going to college? John Stonestreet perhaps put it best, saying, “At many schools, [men] can expect to be consistently berated for things they have no control over, like being men or for their ethnicity.”

Of course there’s never an excuse for bad male behavior, but when good young men are being assaulted in such a manner, many decide “what’s the use?”

Thus, for many men, the price of going into massive debt to secure a college education is not worth being told daily that they’re “toxic” and they’re the main cause of all the world’s problems.

As one male student at Lehigh University wrote, “Calls for greater diversity have bled into a demonization of male leadership. So why should men willingly enter an environment where—while accruing massive debt—they’ll be discouraged at every turn?”

The late Groucho Marx once told the story of how a member of a club he had just joined said something like, “Boy, we are getting some lousy members lately.” Shortly thereafter, Groucho famously wrote when he resigned from the club, “I refuse to join a club that would have me as a member.” That’s how many young men feel at today’s colleges and universities—why join a club where one is vilified for being who they are?

Or as George Gilder has asked, “Why would any self-respecting boy want to attend one of America’s increasingly feminized universities?”

If we want young men to put down their video games, get out of their “man caves,” and return to campus, perhaps it’s time we made them feel welcome there once again. We need to tell them they’re valued, instead of villainizing them.

I’m confident that if this happens, they’ll respond appropriately and not only return to campus, but also become better men, and thus better citizens. They’ll be the “gentlemen” young women seek to be with, and who make positive, rather than negative, contributions to our society.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Timothy S. Goeglein is the vice president of government and external relations at Focus on the Family in Washington, DC, and co-author of "American Restoration: How Faith, Family, and Personal Sacrifice Can Heal Our Nation."