Since the 1980s women have surpassed men in undergraduate college enrollments. This trend for a higher percentage of women in higher education has continued, and in 2007 women officially dominated all levels of higher education including doctoral degrees. Understanding why women have increased enrollments is simple; education acts as a social equalizer and provides opportunities to women that were not previously obtainable. The puzzling factor of this progression stems from men’s trajectory, which plateaus around the 1980s. This project addresses the question of what factors inhibit or promote longer tenures in the academic pipeline for men and women. The hypothesis argues that men and women react differently to certain family factors such as parenting style, income, the age of the mother, household issues, and youth behavioral characteristics. These differing reactions would be the driving force for the gender education gap in the United States. Using an Ordinary Least Squares estimate, a Tobit estimate, and Kaplan-Meier survival analysis, it appears that gender itself is not the determining factor of duration in college. While men and women are not statistically different from one another, they do react different to parenting styles, income, and role model influences of parents. This study corroborates previous work on the importance of income and innate academic ability for duration in college. However, this study also finds that middle school performance is highly influential of determining an individual’s college enrollment. Therefore, to increase the likelihood and duration of an individual’s college education middle schools should focus on providing an environment conducive to engaging both men and women.
Colorado College uses an economic system to allocate scarce course seats: annually during a sealed-bid auction, each student receives nontransferrable, nonbankable currency with which to bid on courses. We estimate an instrumental variables probit model to determine whether particular student populations are a) implicitly wealthier, having the ability to afford more expensive electives, or b) more risk-averse, choosing to avoid ambiguity by bidding more strongly and/or remaining in a class rather than selecting another after pre-registration. Beyond the anticipated department-specific and instructor-specific effects attributable to popular majors or charismatic instructors, we find strong evidence that students bid more strongly for courses that have perceived scarcity of seats, courses that offer a higher expected grade, courses taught by an instructor similar to themselves, or courses with special attributes like limited enrollment or field trip components. We also find evidence of some populations being more willing to “shop around” for new class experiences after the pre-registration period.