While college enrollment rates among young people have risen in recent decades, a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data found that women outpace men in college enrollment, particularly among Hispanics and African-Americans.
In 1994, 63% of recent female high school graduates and 61% of male recent high school graduates attended college after graduation. By 2012, the percentage of young women enrolled in college right after high school had increased to 71%; but it remained unchanged for young men at 61%.
A similar pattern is seen among young Hispanics. In 1994, among Hispanics who completed high school, about half of men and women went to college right away. Almost two decades later, college enrollments for both groups increased, but women outpaced men by 13 percentage points.
For black high school graduates, the story is different. In 1994, young black men were more likely than young black women to attend college right after high school. By 2012, the pattern had reversed: The share of young black men enrolled in college remained flat, while the percentage of young black women enrolled in college increased to 69% —a 12 percentage point gap with black men.
The widening gender gap in college enrollment is not limited to Hispanics and African-Americans. In 1994, among high school graduates, 62% of young white men and 66% of young white women were enrolled in college immediately after graduation—a four percentage point gender gap. In 2012, that gap had grown to 10 percentage points as the share of young white women enrolled in college grew to 72% while the rate for men remained the same.
Changes in the educational habits of Asian-Americans have been less dramatic.. Among them, the share of high school graduates going to college immediately after graduation also grew during this time for both young men and young women. But the gap is much smaller than that among other ethnicities.