More Boston grads head to college, especially women

New findings by Northeastern’s Center for Labor Market Studies show that while more city high school graduates are enrolling in two- and four-year colleges, females are outpacing males in the successful completion of high school and enrollment in college.

The research paper, prepared by the Center’s director Andrew Sum found that while college attendance overall was increasing—78 percent of the city’s 3,300 high school 2007 grads enrolled in college, up 9 percent over the class of 2000—the gender gap is also widening.

While both male and females enrolled in college at high rates, there were many more women attending college than men—153 women per 100 men—and among four-year college students, the gender gap was even larger, with 166 women per 100 men, according to the study.

“The large and growing gender gap in four-year college enrollments reflects a variety of difference in the school behavior and educational performance of men and women,” Sum said in the report.

Differences include:

Women are more likely to graduate from a four-year high school on time.
Both Black and Hispanic males have had the lowest high school graduation rates in recent years.
Female high-school grads are more likely than their male counterparts to attend college.
The gender gaps in college persist across racial/ethnic groups.
Of those enrolled in college or post-secondary training institutions, women were more likely than men to attend a four-year college or university.
Since earlier research shows greater graduation rates at private four-year colleges and universities, thestudy predicts the generation gap between men and women will grow as females enroll in greater numbers in the four-year institutions.

The study concludes that part of the gender disparity results from a greater number of women graduating from the city’s three exam schools, which boast 95 percent college attendance rates among grads.

Although gender gaps in college attendance and degrees awarded also prevail across the state, the difference is more keenly felt in Boston, Sum said in a Boston Globe interview today.

“You won’t find gaps that wide in the Lexingtons, Concords, Brooklines, and Westons,” Sum said in the Globe.

The study suggests further research into methods to improve the outlook for urban male high school students. Education strategies, such as expansion of pilot schools, alternative high schools, and enriched academic/social support services should be considered.

The report further suggests that early joint academic remediation and dual enrollment between high schools and community/four-year colleges may improve graduation rates, and suggests that stronger links between colleges and local employers be explored to create unpaid internships, cooperative education programs, and work-based mentoring.

The report, published this month, is called The Gender Gaps in High School Graduation, Post-Secondary Education/Training Program Enrollment, and Four-Year College Enrollment Rates of Boston Public School Graduates, Class of 2007. Sum is the lead author. The report was prepared for the Boston Private Industry Council. Click here to download the full report.