I’m not a very good student.
I may be 99 percent of the way toward my bachelor’s degree, but my GPA is not stellar and my commitment to this University is fleeting at best. Two semesters from now, I’ll graduate having spent the majority of my final year engaged almost primarily in activities that pad my resume but have nothing to do with this institution. Once I get my degree, I won’t look back.
My sister had a law degree by the time she was 26 – my age. In fact, she may want to go back to school. For the life of her, she cannot understand why I don’t enjoy the income-depriving, time-consuming, inconvenience-filled life of academia.
I have a trump card in my sibling rivalry, however. I’m going to make more money than she will.
Now, I’m not dumb enough to think I’ll earn more simply because she’s a woman. Nor am I conceited enough to think it’s because I’m smarter than she is – I’m not. My sister simply doesn’t care about how much she earns past the point of making a living, while I do. With all respect to the merits of higher education, there’s no college class at any university that teaches students how to get rich. If there was one, however, women would probably get better grades in it and graduate faster.
That would be the expected result given current national information. According to a story in The New York Times this weekend, women are working harder at school than men. Twenty-five years after female attendance at universities superseded that of males, women are performing better and graduating faster.
This is not to say that there is a crisis in terms of the academic achievement level in men. Men still make up an average 42 percent of university populations nationwide, but according to the Times article that number has held steady for some time.
“The boys are about where they were 30 years ago, but the girls are just on a tear, doing much, much better,” Tom Mortenson of the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education said in the article.
At Dickinson College, women comprise approximately half the population, but get more than two thirds of honors such as cum, magna and sum laude. At Harvard, Florida Atlantic University, the University of Wisconsin and UCLA, as well as many other universities around the nation, women are simply outperforming men on college campuses.
Therefore, if it were true that the outcome of one’s life depended on his or her performance in college, it would stand to reason that women would be making more money and wielding more power than men. They are, far and away, the better students.
Yet women don’t earn more money or wield more power than men. As it turns out, employers don’t care that much about college unless they are hiring vocational employees.
The private sector, where most college students are headed to earn their fortunes, is based on money, not knowledge. Often enough, the path to advancement lies in who you know, not what you know. Unless students of both genders realize this at some point, their academic performance won’t mean much.
It’s too early to tell whether these academically phenomenal women realize this. Considering the bad habit of this culture to view success in college as determinative of success in life, it’s possible that this generation of aspiring women has placed its valiant energies on something that doesn’t offer them the rewards it promised.
It’s also possible that the current performance by women in college will translate to performance in life, and this generation of women will beat men in terms of prestige and finance. If that happens, women are to be congratulated.
After all, there’s nothing wrong with a little competition.
Jordan Capobianco is a senior majoring in English literature