How Urban and Rural Community Colleges Can Support Educational Attainment among Men in their Communities

February 11, 2019

As affordable, open-door institutions, community colleges are first responders for supporting males’ postsecondary attainment.

 WASHINGTON, DC—February 11, 2019—The Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT), with support from Strada Education Network, today released two issue briefs that recommend strategies for urban and rural community colleges to support males’ postsecondary attainment. Nationally, rates of postsecondary education have increased in recent years; however, in urban and rural areas the attainment rate among men continues to fall behind women’s attainment. In 2015, 39% of men in urban areas had earned an at least an associate degree compared to 41% of women in urban areas. The attainment disparity is even greater in rural areas, where in 2015, 25% of men had earned at least an associate degree compared to 30% of women (U.S. Department of Agriculture).

“Urban and rural communities across the country share many of the same structural issues that can deter men’s participation in postsecondary education; however, colleges cannot take a one-size-fits-all approach to overcoming these challenges,” said ACCT President and CEO J. Noah Brown. “Trustees have a responsibility to develop attainment strategies tailored to their local students, community members, and workforce needs.”

The Rural Male in Higher Education: How Community Colleges Can Improve Educational and Economic Outcomes for Rural Men and Continuing Progress: How Urban Community Colleges are Improving Outcomes for Minority Men profile two different environments that share the challenge of getting more men into and through college.

“Community colleges often grapple with the barriers that keep men from attending and completing college and transitioning into the workforce,” said Carol D’Amico, Executive Vice President for Mission Advancement and Philanthropy at Strada Education Network. “It’s important that educators, employers, community advocates and policymakers work together to encourage and support men of all ages as they find their purpose and gain the education and skills they will need to launch successful careers.”

In the face of these challenges, colleges that have successfully increased enrollment and degree attainment among male students have developed unique strategies to meet the needs of men in their communities.

The two issue briefs highlight community college attainment strategies including creating peer support networks, partnering with local media outlets to for recruitment and financial aid support, and expanding apprenticeship opportunities for local careers. Improved employment outcomes are certainly not the only benefit of earning a postsecondary credential; however, students often cite better job opportunities as a top motivation for pursing education beyond high school. Community colleges have an opportunity to develop pathways that provide students with a direct connection between their academic studies and career goals.


Contact: David Conner