Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

Racially Minoritized Students at U.S. Four-Year Institutions

Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

Racially Minoritized Students at U.S. Four-Year Institutions

Article excerpt

Racially minoritized students attending U.S. colleges and universities are often compared to their White peers in research studies, generally emphasizing their cultural deficits, masking minority group achievement, and homogenizing within group variations. This article reports data for racially minoritized students who participated in the national 2000 College Senior Survey administered by the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) housed at Higher Education Research Institute. Using descriptive data and chi-square tests, the findings draw a picture of these students that does not presume homogenous characteristics or experiences and challenges some previously established beliefs about this population. Implications for research and practice are provided.

Keywords: students of color; higher education; demographics; cultural deficit models


Over the past fifty years, Black, Latino, Asian American and Pacific Islander, and Native American students have enrolled in college in steadily increasing numbers (El-Khawas, 2003). These groups constitute those who have been racially minoritized in U.S. society. The term "racially minoritized students" as opposed to students of color or minority students is informed by Benitez's (2010) use of "minoritized" and similar to this usage is intended to refer to the "process [action vs. noun] of student minoritization" (p. 131) that reflects an understanding of "minority" status as that which is socially constructed in specific societal contexts. Current presidential initiatives focused on college access and completion (Brandon, 2009) demand greater attention be paid to having an informed picture of racially minoritized students in college and how to support their success.

Researchers studying college students typically make racial or ethnic comparisons within the samples, depicting White students as more successful and prepared for college than racially minoritized students. Such findings reflect a cultural deficit approach (Flores, Cousin, & Diaz, 1991; Rendón, Jalomo, & Nora, 2000) that centers the experiences, habits, and characteristics of White students as normative and optimal. The achievements of racially minoritized students are rendered invisible and insignificant inasmuch as they fall short of the achievements made by White students or as aberrant if they rise above them. Moreover, a cultural deficit approach masks the heterogeneity within and across the racial and ethnic groups that comprise racially minoritized students. Consequently, racially minoritized students appear to be generally deficient in cultural capital, underprepared, and at risk for attrition, while the systemic structural inequities that contribute to uneven patterns of educational persistence and achievement are ignored (Chavous et al., 2002; Rendón, Jalomo, & Nora, 2000). Given this situation, it is vital to construct an understanding of racially minoritized students that does not use a cultural deficit approach to transform higher education policy and practice to better ensure the successful matriculation and graduation of these students. This depiction studies pre-college characteristics, college involvement, and satisfaction among racially minoritized college students. College achievement was not included because the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI), who granted access to these data, is using college achievement data in current analyses of pre-college and college achievement among racially minoritized students.

Literature Review

This literature review includes studies that have examined the pre-college characteristics and campus involvement of racially minoritized college students and takes a thematic approach, characterizing the general conclusions of the literature, and ends with a discussion of the purpose of this study and how it extends the current literature.

Pre-College Characteristics

Generally, research on students' pre-college characteristics has portrayed racially minoritized students on average as less academically talented, more in need of remedial education upon matriculating to college, and lacking the cultural capital and family support necessary for college success (Kuh et al. …

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