Colleges Recruit at Richer, Whiter High Schools

Here is a timely post from the NY Times. It’s a great post if you ask me

There is a good deal of discussion these days over diversity on college campuses. It’s a buzzword at universities and there isn’t one college information session I have been to that has failed to address this issue, often touting the numbers of first-generation and underrepresented students on campus. Almost every school has a dean of diversity or an office of diversity and inclusion. So the article in today’s New York Times, Colleges Recruit at Richer, Whiter High Schools, raises good questions about why colleges and universities are recruiting in school districts with higher income. We have a long way to go to make our efforts match the facts when it comes to diversifying our college campuses.

Colleges Recruit at Richer, Whiter High Schools

The New York Times By Ozan Jaquette and Karina Salazar

Mr. Jaquette is an assistant professor at U.C.L.A. Ms. Salazar is a doctoral candidate at the University of Arizona.

Read the article online, click here.

Please see the article online for charts/ graphs. The findings come from newly collected data on high school recruitment visits, when colleges send representatives across the country to court potential students. We gathered data on these visits throughout 2017 for 150 colleges and universities. (The data does not include other forms of recruitment like brochures, emails and visits not posted online. It also cannot account for instances where a high school may lack the capacity to host recruitment events.)

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.

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 clearest finding from our study is that public high schools in more affluent neighborhoods receive more visits than those in less affluent areas.

Only about a third of households across the country earn more than $100,000 annually, but nearly half of high schools receiving visits by private colleges and universities were in neighborhoods where average incomes were higher. Connecticut College visited neighborhoods with an average median household income of $121,578. Private colleges also disproportionately visited private high schools over public high schools.

Andy Strickler, dean of admissions at Connecticut College, said the school targets high schools that have historically provided students, or other schools that have a similar profile.

He said there was a good reason Connecticut College doesn’t always visit other areas: “There’s a trend for these students to stay closer to home for college.”

While public research universities visited rich and poor neighborhoods nearly equally when recruiting in their home states, they visited the same affluent high schools targeted by private colleges when recruiting elsewhere. Most public colleges also visited far more high schools out of state than in-state. The median income of areas where the University of Pittsburgh recruited out of state, for example, was $114,000, compared with $63,000 for areas that were not visited.

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.

For example, when the University of Colorado Boulder visited public high schools in the Boston metropolitan area, it focused on schools in wealthy communities but skipped many poorer schools that had higher numbers of students scoring proficient in math.

“In order to be good stewards of our funding, we consistently recruit at schools that have historically given us applications,” said Colleen Newman, admissions director at Boulder. “Given our limited funding, we are unable to expand our traditional recruitment efforts to all regions and all high schools that have academically talented students.”

Finding an appropriate college is a major life decision students face, and my job as an educational consultant is to help navigate this often-frenzied process. We have a wide variety of plans available to you. Contact us with questions about planning your college path. Call 973-509-0304 or to email us, click here.