Challenges to First-Generation Male Student Enrollment


In recent years, college enrollment has declined for both male and female students, but the drop in male enrollment has been more pronounced. Fewer males — and particularly, fewer males from low-income households — are going to college. The decline in male enrollment is especially evident at community colleges and among first-generation students, most of whom are from disadvantaged populations. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this problem.

A panel discussion

In January 2022, The Chronicle of Higher Education hosted an online panel discussion — The COVID Crisis: Helping First-Gen Men — to define challenges in sustaining enrollment among first-generation male college students and to highlight ways to meet those challenges. 

Read the National Student Clearinghouse’s take on this discussion. And listen to the webinar yourself to learn about: 

  • The ways Long Beach City College in California is boosting the success of its male students through a focus on “five domains.” 
  • The wraparound services Scholarship Plus is using to help its scholars meet their emotional, mental, financial, professional development, and health needs. 
  • How North Central College in Illinois is reaching out to middle school and high school students through its own first-generation students. 
  • The cost-benefit calculations and multiple layers of “affordability” that can keep first-generation male students from enrolling and persisting in college. 
  • The importance of teaching male parents how to establish boundaries between study and family time and how to explain those boundaries to their families. 
  • Why and how to teach first-generation students about an institution’s “hidden curriculum,” such as the importance of office hours. 

Panel members

The webinar is hosted by Sarah Brown, a senior reporter for the Chronicle, and Anthony Jack, an assistant professor of education at Harvard University. The panel includes: 

  • Eric Becerra, director of special projects at Long Beach City College, a 2-year institution in California 
  • Julie Carballo, assistant dean of first-generation, transfer, and veteran initiatives at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois 
  • Vincent Harris, associate dean and director of the Brown Center for Students Color at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island 
  • Shari Simon, director of scholar success at Scholarship Plus, which provides financial and individualized support through college for New York City students 

A Collaborative To Advance Student Outcomes

The DEI Data Lab is a collaborative effort — our impact is only as great as the partners that collect, share, and use our data across classrooms and campuses. Interested in partnering with us to advance equity in education? Eager to share your program or initiative on the site?