Christian Colleges Look for ‘Missing Men’

Faced with overall enrollment declines, schools are working to close higher education’s gender gap.

Indiana Wesleyan University didn’t start a football team just to boost male enrollment, but it was a factor.

The evangelical college is also starting an engineering program with the same issue in mind.

“Not that engineering is only for male students, but we know historically schools that have engineering draw a higher percentage of male students,” said Chad Peters, the vice president of enrollment management and marketing at IWU.

As evangelical colleges and universities across the country worry about overall enrollment declines, many schools are especially worried about “missing men.” Women in the US currently earn six out of every 10 degrees, and the gender gap has widened with the pandemic. Male undergraduate enrollment dropped by 5 percent in fall of 2020, compared to a less than 1 percent decrease among women.

And for men who do enroll in college, only about 40 percent earn a bachelor’s degree in four years, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, compared to half of women.

The Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU) has formed a Commission for Innovative Enrollment and Marketing in part to brainstorm ways to increase the number of men in higher education. Indiana Wesleyan is one of 10 CCCU-affiliated institutions that are part of the commission.

“We've really tried to stabilize our recruitment processes and systems to make sure that we looked at any gaps or internal processes keeping us from serving students and families,” Peters said.

Evangelical colleges face the same challenges as secular schools in enrolling men, school officials told CT. CCCU schools frequently adopt or adapt the strategies piloted at secular institutions to enroll …

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