As the study focuses on identifying the issues and hindrances preventing first-generation minority students from college completion, it is necessary to analyze the existing literature on the subject. The history of race and college enrollment dynamics, factors influencing the completion rate, and institutions’ best practices in supporting and retaining minority student populations are the main focal points of this review. Scholarly articles and studies on racial college composition trends over time, as well as plans and tools to support students of primarily Hispanic/Latino and Black background, are subject to review in the present paper.
The History of Race and Enrollment Trends
Several studies have been carried out recently to analyze the college enrollment gap between white students and minority students. Recent years show an overall increasing trend in college participation among the underrepresented racial groups. According to researchers, the Hispanic undergraduate enrollment went from 1.4 million to 3.2 million students between 2000–2016 (de Brey et al., 2019). The Black enrollment increased from 12 to 14 percent over the same period (de Brey et al., 2019). It is also noted that the majority of Hispanic students attended public institutions rather than private non-profit colleges.
The future socioeconomic outcome, however, is determined not only by a successful enrollment in college but also by the selection of a post-secondary institution. Another study concluded that the general trend in enrollment selectivity among minority students decreased significantly between 1986 and 2014 (Baker et al., 2018). However, such a positive trend was undermined by further research establishing that the majority of Hispanic and Black students tend to choose less-selective colleges than their white peers. Numbers for 2014 show that the percentages of Black, Hispanic, and White students’ enrollment in more selective higher institutions were 6%, 7%, and 18%, respectively (Baker et al., 2018). Thus, the number of white students entering more advanced colleges with better perspectives in terms of future socioeconomic success is almost three times higher than those of the minority students. Since the student body in colleges across the US becomes more diversified, further research is required to establish the needs and factors affecting the retention and graduation success of minority students.
The Needs and Tools Influencing Successful College Completion
The main factor measuring the success of an education system is primarily the successful completion rate. While various researches proved that there is a steady increase in the enrollment rates among the underrepresented minorities, the college completion rate is still experiencing significant issues. A recent study conducted in Texas placed a particular focus on determining the factors that influence the racial completion gap. The results showed that poverty and academic preparation are the key drivers affecting the issue (Flores et al., 2017). In particular, the process of placing a greater emphasis on financial aid before and after enrollment is “the most direct approach to increasing Hispanic college completion rates” (Flores et al., 2017, p. 918). The study also concluded that successful graduation rates among the Black students are directly linked to thorough academic preparation. Another research with a focus on Black students’ level of graduation success analyzed the data to review the minority experiences in urban public universities (Strayhorn, 2016). The majority of interviewed students noted that the availability of a support system on campus, including counseling, tutoring, and peer associations attributed greatly to their educational success. Also, supportive faculty and staff play a crucial role in students’ retention.
There are, therefore, three main takeaways from the recent studies. Since Blacks and Hispanics have a higher probability of graduating from high school with lower scores than white students, it is crucial to increase the college readiness and provide better academic preparation for minority students (Strayhorn, 2016). The cost of education is viewed as another barrier preventing minority groups from graduation. Therefore, targeted financial aid before and during college attendance is another critical tool in retaining underrepresented groups in colleges. Besides, an adequate support system on-campus is required to ensure higher completion rates.
Best Practices in Supporting Underrepresented Minority Students
With the main barriers precluding underrepresented minority students from graduating being determined, different educational institutions employ various approaches to support Hispanic and Black students. Texas, as one of the states with a high number of Hispanic students, launched its “Closing the Gaps by 2015” educational plan to increase the enrollment and graduation rates of the minority students (Tajalli & Ortiz, 2017). The program included “adopting a more rigorous curriculum in high school; nurturing collaboration between high school and college faculty; creating a state-wide, unified grade point average” (Tajalli & Ortiz, 2017, p. 3). Also, financial support was provided to low-income Hispanic students thorough various outreach programs. The researchers analyzed the data from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board between 2000 and 2015 to determine whether the plan was successful. The overall conclusion was that strategies employed by the educational institutions in Texas on a state-wide level played a critical role in encouraging the minority groups to attend four-year institutions. Moreover, Tajalli and Ortiz estimate that by providing continuous support, only 3% out of the total population of Hispanics 18-24 years of age are expected to be considered first-generation college students by 2030 (2017). However, since the research is limited only to one state, it is critical to continue the research across various regions.
The analysis of the current literature concluded that historically racial minorities were lagging behind the white population in respect of college enrollment. However, recent years’ studies show a promising increase in both participation and completion rates among Hispanics and Blacks. The study of the Texan educational model to support underrepresented students also claimed positive outcomes. However, since each state and educational institution has its specifics in terms of minorities, it is crucial to continue the research to determine particular issues and roadblocks precluding Hispanic and Black students from college completion.
Baker, R., Klasik, D., & Reardon, S. F. (2018). Race and stratification in college enrollment over time. AERA Open, 4(1), 1–28. Web.
De Brey, C., Musu, L., McFarland, J., Wilkinson-Flicker, S., Diliberti, M., Zhang, A., Branstetter, C., & Wang, X. (2019). Status and trends in the education of racial and ethnic groups 2018. U. S. Department of Education. Web.
Flores, S. M., Park, T. J., & Baker, D. J. (2017). The racial college completion gap: Evidence from Texas. The Journal of Higher Education, 88(6), 894–921. Web.
Strayhorn, T. L. (2016). Factors that influence the persistence and success of black men in urban public universities. Urban Education, 52(9), 1106–1128. Web.
Tajalli, H., & Ortiz, M. (2017). An examination of Hispanic college enrollment and graduation: Has the Texas Closing the Gaps plan been successful? Journal of Latinos and Education, 17(4), 1–14. Web.