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Fewer African American Students Reported at Several State Universities

Several large state universities have recently reported the lowest number of incoming African American students in years, in spite of a Supreme Court ruling in 2003 that defended the constitutionality of using race as a factor in college admissions. While the phenomenon has not occurred across the board, the lower numbers are widespread and large state schools appear to be most affected. According to the Minnesota Daily, the number of first-year African American students fell 32 percent at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus and 29 percent at Ohio State University. Additionally, incoming African American students are at a 15-year low at the University of Michigan. This statistic is considered to be a potential reaction to changes in admission procedures required by the 2003 Supreme Court decision, which rendered a more complex application process. While there seems to be no single reason for the drop in African American college students, there are several contributing factors, including increases in tuition, decreases in state funding, a shortage of need-based scholarships, and a limited applicant pool due to a lack of college preparation in high school, the Washington Post reports. In response to a 26 percent drop in first-year African American students this year, the University of Georgia has announced plans to reinstate the use of race as a factor in its admissions, the Los Angeles Times reports. The percentage of African American students in the freshman class dropped to 4.5 percent this year, from the norm of 5.5 to 7 percent. The university is planning to create an office of minority recruitment, hire an image consultant, and provide more need-based aid to incoming students. However, recruiting alone cannot make up for what a recent Washington Post editorial called “the profound failures of the primary and secondary educational systems that generate [college and university] applicants.” Students at predominantly African-American high schools often do not get the same opportunities as students at predominantly white high schools, reports the Minnesota Daily.

Sources:

Washington Post 11/23/04, 11/29/04; Minnesota Daily 12/3/04; Los Angeles Times 12/3/04