Since 1987 women have been a majority of 18- to 24-year-olds attending college. As of October 2008, women comprised 53% of all young college students.8

Notwithstanding that trend by gender, the percentage of 18- to 24-year-old men enrolled in college reached an all-time high in October 2008 (37.0%) (Figure 3). For many years, young men’s college participation had remained below the level reached during the height of the Vietnam War (35.2% in October 1969), when many male students extended their education because they wanted to hang on to their student deferment from the military draft. Not until October 2005 did college enrollment among young men surpass the October 1969 level. It has kept rising since then.

In October 2008, a larger share of 18- to 24-year-old women were enrolled in college (42.3%) than their male counterparts (37%), but young female college enrollment was not much different than its October 2005 peak (42.5%).