In This Story:
- Davidson College
- Duke University
- Pitzer College
- Purdue University
- University of Arkansas-Fayetteville
- University of Pittsburgh
Princeton Review acknowledges universities with a 50/50 gender breakdown.
This year the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville’s incoming class was 50.3% female, 49.7% male.
If you round the numbers they’re still 50/50, but the school’s admissions counselors aren’t quite satisfied with the statistic – just like many other universities so close to the perfect gender breakdown presented in Princeton Review’s Best Value Colleges 2014.
A few years ago, the school lightened the use of their Razorback mascot, Big Red, to make it known that the school had other features to offer besides athletics. The new brochures focused on academics and community outreach.
But now Suzanne McCray, vice provost for enrollment management and dean of admissions, is wondering if that choice gave the materials a female bias.
“They [females] have higher GPAs than men coming out of high school and that’s why there are a lot of schools who have an issue with women dominating their freshman class,” McCray says. Her team wondered if they were losing male appeal by making materials look more academic.
McCray says that in the future the school will offer an additional mailer based on whether or not students check the box expressing interest in athletics.
The new materials will give the Razorback more face time once again.
“We’re just being proactive in reviewing the materials to make sure we’re gender balanced,” McCray says. “So we make sure students interested in that part of the university get sufficient material to satisfy that.”
INTERACTIVE: Details on each college
Because the admissions and financial aid process at Arkansas is gender blind, McCray hopes that the promotional materials will help bring the numbers back to that perfect split.
Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif. has a majority of females on its campus.
The college doesn’t have gender specific financial aid, but they’re working on outside initiatives and programs to recruit more men.
The school recently adopted the Pitzer Pathways Initiative to help recruit from low-income areas.
The initiative will recruit “first-generation, disadvantaged and nontraditional age students.” In 2014, admissions counselors will visit with community-based organizations to help promote the college.
The new initiative doesn’t focus specifically on low-income men. But Jamila Everett, Pitzer’s director of admissions, hopes that reaching out to students in low-income areas will naturally help to equalize the genders.
Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. has more males than females, but its also working towards a more balanced student body.
“It really has to do with the program mix, the academic program mix, we have one of the largest programs of engineering in the country,” says Pam Horne, associate vice provost of enrollment management and dean of admissions at Purdue. “Not that we’re not trying to change that, by the way…we’re working very hard on increasing the proportion of women in engineering and technology.”
Despite working to recruit more females, Horne says financial aid isn’t strategically packaged by gender. However, some specific departments might give special merit- based consideration to a student if he or she meets the mission of the department.
For example, a woman applying for a merit scholarship in the college of engineering might get a second look when that school is looking to enroll more females.
“Purdue College of Engineering feels it has an important mission to educate the engineers of the 21st century and that includes more women engineers,” Horne says.
The Princeton Review’s 2014 Best Value College lists University of Pittsburgh as a school with a 50/50 split, but Marc Harding, chief enrollment officer, says last year’s incoming class was closer to 53% female, 47% male.
That doesn’t mean they don’t want to achieve the perfect balance, though.
Pittsburgh doesn’t use admissions or special scholarships to recruit either gender. Instead, individual schools put on certain programs that get students excited about career fields they might not have considered before, Harding says.
He cites the Pitt Mobile Science Lab, a semi truck that travels around their region and teaches middle and high school students about science. The lab, aimed at students of both genders, teaches young students to consider fields they might not have before.
“They’re trying to generate awareness, that’s recruiting though,” Harding says.
According to the Princeton Review, Davidson College in Davidson, N.C. has a gender split of almost exactly 50/50.
Although David Gelinas, senior associate dean and director of financial aid at Davidson, isn’t aware of an enrollment requirement he says, “There is an attempt to balance gender as closely as possible.”
However, Davidson doesn’t use financial aid to achieve the gender balance.
“Our need based grant philosophy is gender neutral and it’s a question of the need that the students who apply for aid show us. Since we’re not evaluating need in the admission process it just turns out to be the students who qualify,” Gelinas says.
Duke University also shows a 50/50 gender split in the Princeton Review.
Christoph Guttentag, Duke’s dean of undergraduate admissions, says the school doesn’t use an enrollment quota — the gender split just usually happens to work out almost exactly half and half.
“We’ve never awarded either financial aid or merit scholarships to achieve a gender balance,” Guttentag says. “Financial aid is not a recruiting device, it is not an enrollment management device.”
Contributing: Ian Campbell
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