Monday, March 21, 2011

It Depends on What You Mean by Co-Ed

Two interesting and somewhat related articles popped up recently related to co-ed colleges. First, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights decided it didn't have enough solid information to make an informed decision on whether there is gender discrimination in college admissions. So it suspended its investigation of 19 colleges. Part of the reason? Some of the most selective schools refused to turn over admissions data. Also, for some reason, the commission could only subpoena data from schools within a 100 mile radius of its office in Washington, D.C. -- providing a somewhat limited look at the issue.

The investigation was prompted primarily by anecdotes springing from an accepted fact: nationally, the female to male ratio in colleges is 60/40. The concern was that colleges were starting to accept more men simply to make the ratio more balanced.

Andrew Ferguson, the "he's everywhere" author of Crazy U and senior editor at The Weekly Standard, writes about the practice here. According to him, it's all about politics and colleges wanting to make their campuses attractive to boys and girls. And that means the schools are using quotas to ensure there are enough boys each year, even if they are selected over better qualified females.

It's a complex situation, as is everything related to admissions. So, if a girl doesn't get into a school where she met or exceeded the college's requirements, blame it on quotas. And if a boy gets into a school he never really dreamed would accept him, well, he can thank his likely stars...and quotas.

Is the 60/40 campus an actual social problem? How many students scrutinize these numbers? Is it a big deal, or an invented problem?

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