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Shane Collins

Mrs. Lohmeyer

Composition 1

4 December 2017

The Plight of Young Males

In a society where education is becoming more important every day, some people are

concerned with the downhill slide of males. Not many men seem to be going off to college

and getting a bachelors degrees and then entering the work force, which society usually

considers the path to successful and productivity. Saul Kaplan states in his essay The Plight

of Young Males more American women than men have received bachelors degrees

(733). I agree that more women are headed off to college and getting bachelors degrees, but

I cannot agree that men are not furthering their education. Kaplan cannot make the claim

that men are not going to college without taking a deeper look at what they are doing in place

of college. Many men are going to vocational schools, Junior College, or heading into the

work force immediately.

Kaplan, founder of the Business Innovation Factory, has written several essays about

keeping up with the constant changes in the work force of the world today. He wrote the

essay The Plight of Young Males in 2011 to bring awareness to the fact that young men are

not going to college and getting bachelors degrees. Kaplan believes men are falling behind

in high school, and as a consequence not going to college and dropping out or not going at

all. (733) He goes on to say the industrial time jobs have disappeared and the American

dream may no longer be available without the degrees attached to higher education (734).
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Kaplan makes valid points in his argument however; it is not black and white. If there are

fewer men on college campuses then where have they gone? The population of men isnt

decreasing, so where are they? What are they doing, and why are they making these choices?

If we take a look at the following information you will see there are multiple answers to

where they have gone and several reasons why.

Men looking for stability and benefits may look to the military as an alternative to school.

Sections of the military will pay you to train and work for them, as well as promising the

opportunity to go back to school after finishing the commitment you have for them. Students

struggling to make ends meet may find this as a way to get on the job training, while earning

a wage, and preparing for a stable future. This path may also provide retirement and medical

benefits other positions earned with a four year degree may not. While this is a difficult path

to say the least, it is an option for men looking for ways to support themselves and a family

in the future.

Men of today have a wide variety of choices when applying to and attending a four year

college. Those who choose to forgo the higher education process altogether will directly join

the workforce out of high school. According to an article written by Ben Casselman, For

young people employed full time, median wages rose faster than inflation in 2013 for the first

time since the recession (Casselman). This may be a factor in graduating seniors choosing

the workforce over education. Men questioning whether to attend school or not have a

greater chance at making a positive start to their future rather than adding to their debt right

off the bat. An example of this would be my own brother. Ross graduated from Bison High

School last spring and went directly to work all summer. He was able to work more than the

40 hours a week most individuals have available to them. Rosss job allowed him to take
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home nearly $2000 each month. If he had chosen to continue working, he would have been

able to get a good start on saving for his future. Ross also had the benefits of housing

provided and very little expense, as meals and such were provided by his employer. Many

young men in the farming and ranching industry find it difficult to give up the current

income, in favor of long term investment in education. Ross however chose to further his

education not at a 4 year campus but at a 2 year trade school.

Many graduates, including my brother, have chosen to attend a trade school as an

alternative to attending the traditional four year college. Trade schools may be the choice of

many males missing from the college campuses Kaplan makes reference to. A trade school

as defined by Trent Hamm in his article, Why You Should Consider Trade School Instead 0f

College, also known as a technical or vocational school, is an education institution that

exists to teach skills related to a specific job. Statistics show that many more students are

choosing a vocational school over the traditional four year institution. According to the

National Center of Education Statics, the number of associates degrees rose from 696,660 in

2004-2005 to 1,013,971 in 2014-15. This calculates to a 46% increase in number of short

term degrees earned over the past 10 years (USDE). This shows one possible answer to

where the men have gone when not at college.

As we look at possible places the young men have gone, we must also take look at why

they are choosing to forgo the 4 year college degree. First of all, the cost of a four year

education is a deterrent for many high school graduates. The average cost of a bachelors

degree is $127,000. That is about 4 times as much as trade school tuition of $33,000. Nearly

70% of students take out loans to help pay for school 20% of students with loans owe

more than $50,000, and 5.6% owe more than $100,000 (Hamm, Trent) If a college student
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has $12,000 a year from working a part time job and his tuition will cost him in the range of

$31,000, he is already setting himself up for financial difficulty.

While research has shown that a student with a bachelors degree has more income

potential over the long term, the debt could possibly overshadow that figure. Kaplan

references the income gap between a high school graduate and a college graduate in his

essay. The annual earnings gap between these two groups is about $19,500. (Kaplan 734)

This would lead some to believe that if you obtain that degree you will automatically be

guaranteed an increase in salary. This may not always be the case. An average business

manager, with below average communication skills may not see the return in salary above an

on the job trained professional even though he has his degree backing him. (Murray 247)

While they say there is value in the extra investment in college, which may not prove true

for everyone.

The time involved in earning that degree may also be one reason men are choosing

alternate paths for their future. When looking at the fact that it will take twice as long to get

the bachelors verses the associates degree, many men may not wish to invest that time.

Associate degrees can be obtained, and a student can be moving into the workforce before

many four year students have gotten to their degree specific classes. Upon graduation, many

of the four year students lack the experience needed to move into the job sector. Time equals

money and when you dont have the experience you are farther away from that money.

Bison School District employs two teachers from Michigan, because they have to have

experience as a teacher to apply to be a teacher in Michigan. Their option was then to apply

out of state and get the experience or take a job not in their field of study. They also had the

option to take a position in Michigan below their education level (teachers aide) and work
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up. Again this idea points to the fact that the return on their investment may take longer than

expected when they applied for school.

While some may say a person cant get anywhere without a college degree and these

young men need to make their way to the college campus any way possible; I say take a look

at rural America. In Bison, the largest fulltime employer in our town, Grand Electric/West

River Telephone, has more employees without college degrees than employees with them.

This company has been an example to our graduating seniors of what employability looks

like. Several of these men did obtain their associates from a trade school, while others have

gained their position by on the job training and experience in the company. I will concede

that a degree would not hurt these men, but it is not necessary to have a solid, stable and

profitable position in this company. The ability to achieve this stable and successful life,

without attending the traditional four year school, may contribute to the lack of males on

college campuses.

Kaplan and others will continue to press the fact that young men continue to fall behind

women in the number graduating from college. I will argue that this does not reflect any

particular plight of the men. It completely ignores that fact that as the economy changes and

the world job market changes, men are choosing different paths to their futures. While a

degree sounds good in theory, does it put food on the table? When it comes down to it men

are not choosing to be less educated. They are choosing what they believe is the best path to

a successful debt free future.


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Works Cited
Casselman, Ben More High School Grads Decide College Isnt Worth It. FiveThirtyEight. 4/22/2014
Hamm, Trent Why You Should Consider Trade School Instead 0f College. The Simple Dollar. 7/20/2016
Kaplan, Saul. The Plight of Young Males. They say, I say With Readings, Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkenstein
and Russel Durst, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2015, 732-735.
Murray, Charles. Are too many people going to College. They say, I say With Readings, Gerald Graff,
Cathy Birkenstein and Russel Durst, W.W. Norton and Company, Inc., 2015, 234-254.
U.S. Department of Education. Digest Of education Statistics. National Center for Education Statistics,
2015, https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d16/tables/dt16_322.10.asp . 12/4/2017.