Academic journal article High School Journal

A Survey of School/College Partnerships for Minority and Disadvantaged Students

Academic journal article High School Journal

A Survey of School/College Partnerships for Minority and Disadvantaged Students

Article excerpt

Until the 1950s colleges and universities had few concerns about attracting candidates. Institutes of postsecondary education were viewed as the domain of well prepared White affluent students. The school-college relationship of this period focused on the transition of "superior students" from secondary schools to colleges and universities. As long as there were substantial numbers of these students, colleges and universities could afford to be less than active in recruiting minority, low income and underprepared students (Levine, 1989). However, the size of the White college age cohort has declined, while the pool of students from ethnic minority groups grew by 57.6% from 1982 to 1993 (Carter & Wilson, 1995, p. 13). In the future, students from established minority and relatively new immigrant groups are projected to compose an even larger portion of the college age cohorts (Levine, 1989, p. 34). These demographic trends are of special concern for higher education policy makers because a high percentage of the population growth is projected to be among groups who have experienced low educational achievement and who tend to be underprepared for postsecondary education.

By most estimates, the greatest population growth in the United States is occurring among minority groups. Between 1985 and 2000, the U.S. population is projected to increase by 16.1%. The bulk of this growth--61.6%--will occur among certain ethnic minority populations (African American, Asian American, Hispanic, and Native American). The overall growth rate by race and ethnicity for this period includes a projected 23.8% increase for blacks, 69.6% increase for Hispanics, and 111% increase for other minority groups, compared to a 7% increase in the white population (U. S. Bureau of the Census, 1995, p. 19). This trend toward larger minority college age cohorts is compounded by the decline in the birthrate of the U.S. born white population. Between 1979 and 1988, the white college-age population (18 to 21 year olds) declined by 21%, and the number of African-Americans in this age group decreased by 11%. On the other hand, the number of Asians rose by a substantially higher proportion (Levine, 1989, p. 163). In-migration, both legal and illegal, is expected to continue to influence the college age cohorts disproportionately across the country (Levine, 1989, p. 20; U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1995).

The most rapidly growing college age groups in our population also have lower high school graduation rates. For example, the high school completion rate of minority students is significantly inferior to that of their white counterparts, who in 1993 had a national high school graduation rate of 83.4%. By contrast, African-Americans of the same age cohort had a graduation rate of 74.8%, followed by Hispanics with a 60.7% graduation rate (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1994). Because preparation of minorities for college has been deficient by most standards, it is questionable whether a significant number of future minority high school graduates will enter college, and whether those who do will have the requisite aptitudes and attitudes necessary for success.

This shift in composition of the present and future population of students who are projected to attend postsecondary institutions has college and university administrators increasingly concerned about their ability to attract and retain students in the future. As a result, the higher education community, K-12 schools, and others have begun to analyze and reform their ability to help prepare and enroll in college larger portions of this growing minority student population. Hodgkinson (1985) noted that:

   The rapid increase in minorities among the youth population is here to
   stay. We need to make a commitment as educators to see that all our
   students in higher education have an opportunity to perform academically at
   a high level. There will be barriers of color, language and attitude. … 
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