The information offered in this opinion piece will probably come as no surprise to most of us; but a recent study points up how prevalent divisiveness, based on income and race, permeates our higher educational system even though colleges within that system insist that they are pushing for inclusivity.
It is also important to note, that much of the recruitment in high income areas is a result of States' policies.
What researchers Ozan Jaquette and Karina Salazar found, was that if a public high school was in a more affluent neighborhood, they'd receive more recruitment visits than if they were in a less affluent area.
I am offering a few excerpts from the Op-Ed, since printing some of the methodology, and graphs, illustrations and tables, do not come through, but the entire article, while long, is well worth a read, especially for those who are keen on equality in education.
I believe, that if we here in the USA are truly looking to educate our people, we should be changing the way we recruit students for our colleges. Education should not be under the auspices of "big business.
A recruiter for the University of Alabama speaks to prospective students at a college fair run by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, at Suffolk County Community College on Long Island. Michael Nagle for The New York Times
The Researchers: Ozan Jaquette is an assistant professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, Graduate School of Education & Information Studies. Karina Salazar is a doctoral candidate at the Center for the Study of Higher Education at the University of Arizona.
The clearest finding from our study is that public high schools in more affluent neighborhoods receive more visits than those in less affluent areas.
The attention public universities lavish on wealthy out-of-state schools is a response to state policy. Over the past decade, many states have cut funding for higher education, forcing public universities to become more dependent on tuition revenue. Research shows that public universities responded by enrolling more out-of-state students, who often pay two to three times more than state residents. And of course, only well-off students can afford that.
Some people argue that poor students and students of color are less likely to attend college because they have lower grades or standardized test scores. But we found that colleges and universities tended to avoid visiting schools in poor areas even when those schools had a large number of students who had performed well on tests.
Knowing which high schools receive recruiting visits is important because debates about access to higher education often focus on students’ abilities but ignore how colleges identify and prioritize prospects.
Colleges don’t treat recruitment lightly. It’s big business for colleges and the firms they hire.
A study by Meagan Holland at the University at Buffalo found recruitment visits aren’t merely an indicator of each college’s priorities; they also influence where students — and particularly first-generation students — apply and enroll. The study found that many smart kids from less affluent backgrounds are sensitive to “feeling wanted,” often attending colleges that took the time to visit.
The most common explanation [for inadequate diversity]is that there aren’t enough of them applying (the so-called achievement gap). Another explanation we hear is that talented students don’t apply because they don’t have the right guidance (called “under-matching”). These explanations assume that doubling the number of high-achieving students who apply would automatically double enrollment. But this treats universities as though they are passively receiving applications, when they are actually actively seeking and encouraging certain applicants over others.
Our data suggests universities are determined to court wealthier students over others, and they expend substantial resources identifying and reaching them.
There are many students from poor communities who get excellent grades but end up going to a community college because no one bothers looking for them. If colleges are serious about increasing socioeconomic and racial diversity, they should look for merit everywhere, not just in wealthy, white communities.