Monday, September 21, 2015
African-American students more likely to attend and graduate college than white students with similar background
College attendance and completion in the U.S. are strongly correlated
with race and socioeconomic background. Do public postsecondary
institutions themselves exacerbate pre-college disparities, or reduce
This study addresses this question using longitudinal data linking the
records of students at North Carolina's public four-year universities
to their public K-12 records. As a result of an institutional
structure forged during the period of Jim Crow segregation, black
students who attend the state's public university system are likely
to experience markedly more racial isolation in college than they did
in middle school.
Another, more positive consequence of this
structure is to boost in-state public four-year college enrollment
and graduation by African-American students relative to white
students with similar backgrounds. Conditional on enrolling in one
of the state's public universities, however, black students lag
behind whites in grades and graduation rates.
Regarding socioeconomic background, lower-status youth are less
likely to enter the system and less likely to succeed once they enter
than those with higher status. The socioeconomic gap in graduation
rates among matriculants has, however, declined in recent years.