Saturday, October 15, 2016

Minority students are underrepresented at the nation’s top public schools - MarketWatch

Minority students are underrepresented at the nation’s top public schools - MarketWatch:

Minority students are underrepresented at the nation’s top public schools

More evidence our nation’s top public schools are turning into bastions of wealthy, white students

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 Our public higher education system, typically thought of as a great equalizer, isn’t as great an engine of social mobility as we imagine, a new study suggests.

Just 9% of African-American students and 12% of Latino students enrolled in public colleges were at the nation’s top public research universities, according to an analysis of government data released Thursday by the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank. But these students were overrepresented at less-selective schools; 40% of black students enrolled at public colleges were in four-year regional schools and 51% were at community and technical colleges, the analysis found. More than 30% of Latino students in public college were enrolled in four-year regional colleges and 56% were at community colleges.
White students fared better; 19% of white students enrolled in public college attended a top public university and the other roughly 80% was split basically evenly between community colleges and less-selective four-year schools.
StudentsShare at top public 
research universities
Share at four-year 
regional colleges
Share at community 
and technical college 
All18%38%45%
White19%40%41%
Black9%40%51%
Latino12%32%56%
The research adds to the growing body of evidence that black, Latino and less-wealthy students aren’t getting as much out of our nation’s higher education system as their white, wealthier peers. Black students are overrepresented in some of the nation’s lowest-paying majors and underrepresented in the highest paying fields, according to an analysis published earlier this year by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce. A major reason why: Black students are more likely to be in less-selective and under-resourced schools that don’t have the funds to offer a wide variety of science and technology majors.
“The implications really get down to the returns of a college education,” said Elizabeth Baylor, the director of postsecondary education at CAP and the author of the report published Thursday. “If you attend a top public college you have a wider range of career and academic possibilities in front of you.” That’s in part because students at elite public colleges are more likely to complete school, but also because of the reputation of their degrees. “Even if students complete a community college program, they just have a narrower range of possibilities,” Baylor added.
It’s hard to say exactly why minority students are overrepresented at less-selective schools and underrepresented at top public colleges. Admissions policies may play a role. Though colleges are increasingly reaching out to minority and low-income students, there’s evidence to suggest they’re still not reaching anywhere near all of the nation’s qualified, but underrepresented students.
Controversy over affirmative action has also made it difficult for schools to explicitly target these students. The Supreme Court narrowly upheld the University of Texas’ affirmative-action program a few months ago, but schools still face challenges considering race in admissions. For example, in 2006 Michigan residents voted to ban the use of affirmative action for public sector hiring and education in the state.
State disinvestment in public higher education may also be contributing to the low-level of minority students at the top public colleges, the study noted. Schools feeling the pressure of budget cuts may be inclined to use their aid dollars to lure wealthier, out-of-state students at the expense of low-income and, in some cases, minority students. Research from think tank New America shows that top public colleges are increasingly using out-of-state students who, even with the discount, will still wind up paying more than in-state students. These merit scholarships going to out-of-state students may be taking away from the money available to provide awards to students based on need, New America found.
Without sufficient funding at elite public schools, minority and low-income students may be making the rational choice to minimize their costs and debt loads by attending a cheaper school or one closer to where they’re from so they can live at home and minimize their debt, Baylor said.
“It’s not a perfect system,” she said. “The availability of financial aid that limits student loans really can help minority students and low-income students maximize their academic potential.”Minority students are underrepresented at the nation’s top public schools - MarketWatch:

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