Where are young men to go if college isn’t attractive?

The value of a college degree may or may not be diminishing, but we’ve known for a few years now that there is a growing gender imbalance on college campuses. Colleges are attracting more women than men.

Where are young men to go? One answer: into trades where they can integrate mind and body in something closer to what the ancients would have called a real (meaning holistic) education.

I learned recently of the founding of the College of Saint Joseph the Worker in Steubenville, Ohio, and their aim is just this sort of mind/body integrative experience:

The College of St. Joseph the Worker forms students into effective and committed members of their communities by teaching them the Catholic intellectual tradition while training them in skilled and dignified labor. We teach our students to think, but also to pray, to love, and to build.

Their vision statement is worth reading in its entirety. I’ll highlight just this:

Students of the College of St. Joseph the Worker will graduate with a BA in Catholic Studies as well as a solid foundation in the skilled trades. Our goal is to produce faithful Christians who are virtuous citizens, intellectually formed, and capable of building up the Church in their communities. 

Another integrated institution I learned about recently is Harmel Academy of the Trades, which is “a residential, Catholic, post-secondary, trade school for men” in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Their mission in

– Helps students grow in holiness through a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.
– Prepares students to be technical experts in their chosen trade.
– Supports business and industry by providing well-trained, hard-working, dependable and ethical workers.
– Helps students understand and apply Catholic Church teachings on work.
– Equips students with the skills and support to lead their future families.
– Creates associations of Catholic tradesmen, with mentorship, fellowship, and social action.

We need colleges and schools like these in every state. The more of these we have, the more the gender imbalance will, on the whole, resolve.