The research from UCLA and the University of Arizona has implications for campus demographics and access to higher education.
“All students who work hard and get good grades in high school should have equal opportunity to attend our nation’s top colleges and universities, regardless of their race or socioeconomic status,” says co-author and UCLA assistant professor Ozan Jaquette. “Colleges and universities say that they want to increase opportunity for low-income students and students of color, but our analysis finds that most colleges and universities prioritize affluent, white schools, while often ignoring schools in poor communities and communities of color.”
Of public universities sampled in the research, the majority focus their recruiting efforts on wealthy out-of-state high schools. Those high schools tend to have higher populations of white students than unvisited high schools.
Public and private universities spend a disproportionate amount of visits on private high schools instead of public, and those private high schools enroll a much higher percentage of white students than public high schools.
Colleges and universities are more likely to visit affluent, predominantly white schools than they are to visit highly proficient schools in poor communities and/or schools with mostly minority students.
“The debate around access to higher education too often focuses on students’ abilities while ignoring the role that colleges and universities play in targeting specific populations of potential students,” says report co-author and University of Arizona doctoral candidate Karina Salazar. “We hope that our data will provide the attention and insight needed to create change that will make college access more equitable.”
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