USA: Why Colleges Already Face Race-Related Challenges In Serving Future Students : NPR

Good analysis, showing ongoing stratification in post-secondary education and an interesting nuance of the Asian American ‘myth of being a model minority’:

Today, more Americans graduate high school and go on to college than ever before. But as the country becomes more diverse — the Census Bureau expects that by 2020 more than half of the nation’s children will be part of a minority race or ethnic group— are colleges and universities ready to serve them?

“If you look at the past 50, almost 60 years, you see we have made a lot of progress as a country in terms of high school seniors deciding to go to college in the 1.5 years after graduating,” says Andrew Nichols, director of higher education research and data analytics at the Education Trust, a nonprofit. “And that isn’t just white students. It’s also for black and Latinos. You’re seeing that increase for everybody.”

The National Center for Education Statistics reports that in 2015, 88 percent of seniors – nearly 3 million students – graduated high school. By the following October, 69 percent of them – or more than 2 million people – were enrolled in college.

But where are they attending? And do they graduate?

The same is true for Asian Americans, says Robert Teranishi, a professor of education at UCLA and the director of the National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Research in Education (CARE). The largest concentration of Asian-American students – about half – attends community colleges, he says. It’s also where enrollment of Asian Americans is increasing the fastest.

But because community colleges have low six-year graduation rates (39 percent according to a report by the American Association of Community Colleges), this means that few of those students will actually earn degrees. “The problem is there’s not a lot of expansion in higher education,” Teranishi says. As a result, some students end up in subpar schools where they may never earn a degree. “A lot of students are relegated to two-years or they’re ending up in four-year institutions that are not doing a good job at helping students succeed and earn a degree,” he says. “They’re being set up in a bad situation.”

Meanwhile, the nation’s selective institutions — the Ivy Leagues and flagship public universities — are becoming even more selective, and remaining mostly white. According to the 2013 report “Separate & Unequal” from the Georgetown Center for Higher Education and the Workforce, since 1995, 80 percent of America’s white college students have enrolled in the country’s 468 most well-funded, selective four-year colleges and universities. These schools spend two to nearly five times as much per student as do the 3,250 less resourced, open-access colleges (which do not require applications) where students of color are concentrated.

The study also found that while inequalities of race and class overlap quite a bit, race has a distinctive negative effect. Even after controlling for academic achievement in high school, black and Latino students attend selective institutions at far lower rates and drop out of college more often.

As a result, whites have higher graduation rates and are more likely to attain advanced degrees and higher future earnings, even among equally qualified students. Anthony Carnevale, the director of the center and one of the authors of the report, told NPR in 2013 that, “We found … that while more and more minorities are going on to college, that the system itself was becoming even more unequal. That is, we were getting more and more access, and access was bringing more and more inequality, and the inequality mattered.”

For Asian Americans, a false perception persists that they’re universally high achieving. Teranishi says that they’re treated as a homogenous group even though there are many ethnic subgroups, and that there’s not enough data tracking subgroups. A 2011 report by CARE found that up to two-third of Southeast Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States don’t have any form of post-secondary education and that for the ones who do enter college, half drop out.

“They’re generally overlooked and underserved when it comes to college opportunity programs, college access, or even student services or programs on campus,” Teranishi says. “And really, it’s rooted in this model-minority myth. There’s not a lot of understanding about their actual experiences or outcomes.”

Teranishi finds it disconcerting that Asian Americans are used as a wedge group against other people of color and says these claims of discrimination have scant evidence. “It’s not like Harvard can admit every student who is in the top of their class with a 4.0 GPA or who has a perfect SAT. That outnumbers the number of students Harvard admits each year. There’s a lot more criteria involved in the selection process,” he says.

“The other thing that concerns me is that this narrative … removes Asian Americans from the broader discourse about the importance of diversity and equity in higher education. So that’s concerning because Asian Americans, like other students, they benefit from being exposed to students of other racial backgrounds.”

Several studies have shown that diverse student bodies benefit students of all races by improving intellectual engagement, citizenship, and cognitive skills. The positive effects stay with them even after they graduate college.

Source: Why Colleges Already Face Race-Related Challenges In Serving Future Students : Code Switch : NPR


About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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