Last year, Dr. Sutton and Erica Osbsorne, my boss and colleague, respectively, examined a growing trend of young women at BU to feel extremely homesick and to struggle with developing new female bonds.
This year, we’ve been observing new trends among males on campus, and curious about the implications these trends, and the mentalities of college males (who are in the minority) as they struggle to succeed. Dr. Sutton has put together them observations/thought questions to share…
Freud tacked the question, “What do women want?” I cogitate often on the difference between male and female college freshmen—as much as one can generalize.
The national data is clear: 1984 is the last year there were an equal number of men and women in college. Since then the numbers of women have increased rapidly; the numbers of men have stayed steady or increased only somewhat. Women graduate at higher rates and earn higher grades then men. They enter graduate programs, except for those in physics, engineering, and technology, at higher rates.
Perhaps this social phenomenon interests me so much since when I was in college even the English majors were male. Or maybe this question about men attracts me because I have one son and two grandsons. But what is going on with guys?
If I knew the answer, I could write the book and make many millions. I have hunches but no answers. Here are some questions:
- Is it true that college freshmen men feel a greater tendency to regard college as the last time they can still be a kid, have a lot of fun, and not worry about consequences than freshmen women?
- Does the reality of impending adulthood and independence frighten them more than it does young women?
- Do we socialize young men to take less responsibility for themselves and others?
- Do we not expect boys to like reading or school in general in the same way that we expect girls to?
- At a certain age is academic achievement just not acceptable in many male peer groups?
I could go on, but I wonder what do you think? What have you observed in your own circles? What would you tell the parents of sons? How can I help make sure that my grandsons are regular guys who love learning, achieve in school, and develop the confidence to face their futures with enthusiasm?
What do you think?
Dr. Catherine Sutton
Dean of Academic Advising, Director of the ARC