Highly selective colleges boosted underrepresented minority students in fall 2021

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New data shows 16 highly selective private colleges slightly boosted the number of Black and Hispanic students enrolled at their schools last fall. 

Meanwhile, across a large number of colleges and universities deemed as “selective,” the overall number of students classified as underrepresented minorities appears to have stayed nearly flat. 

The findings were released last month by the College Board, the not-for-profit education organization that in part helps schools facilitate the college admissions process, as part of its Admissions Research Consortium, a research effort that helps participating schools learn about each others’ admissions processes and outcomes. 

The 36-page report compared 51 four-year schools, including 32 private colleges with admit rates above 25%, which researchers classified as “selective,” and those below 25%, which were “more selective.” They also considered 19 public colleges with admit rates above and below 60%. 

Among private colleges with admit rates below 25%, the number of enrolled underrepresented minority students increased from 26.0% in fall 2020 to 29.4% in fall 2021. The report defines under-represented minority students as “Black, Hispanic/Latinx, Native American, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and Two or More Races.” 

Over the same period, the number of Black enrolled students at those more selective private schools increased by nearly 19%, while the same metric for students of two or more races went up by about 20%, and approximately 9% for Hispanic students. 

Growth in admissions offers at all of the 51 colleges was also greater among underrepresented minority applicants than Asian and white applicants, the report says. 

The report cautions against crafting any definitive narratives based on the data, but the findings come after the pandemic dramatically altered the college admissions landscape.

In particular, many selective colleges and universities in recent years dismantled their standardized testing requirements, which have long been a subject of debate over their relation to socioeconomic and racial equity on college campuses.

A recent study at the University of Missouri, according to an Inside Higher Ed report, found that students who attended the school in the fall of 2021 without submitting standardized test scores earned only a slightly lower GPA in their first semester than those who did — and both groups had similar retention rates.

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