More Black Women Than Black Men Continue to Enroll in 4-Year College
More Black Women Than Black Men Continue to Enroll in 4-Year Collegesand Enter With 'A' Averages, UCLA Study Reveals
Date: October 31, 2005
Contact: Shaena Engle ( email@example.com ) Phone: 310-206-5951
Over the past 33 years, black women have enrolled in four-year colleges at higher rates than have black men, according to the resultsof a new study conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute atUCLA's Graduate School of Education & Information Studies. In 2004, black women comprised 59.3 percent of all first-time, full-time blackstudents attending fourâ€‘year institutions, compared to 54.5 percent in1971. The study also revealed that among black freshmen, males have higherintellectual selfâ€‘confidence ratings than do females: 76 percent of males vs. 65 percent of females rated themselves among the top 10percent compared with their peers. However, black women attending both historically black colleges (HBCUs) and predominantly white institutions (PWIs) were significantly more likely than were men to enter college with "A" averages.
Over time, the gender gap in achievement at college entry has widened at both PWIs (3 percentdifference between men and women in 1971 and 14 percent difference in2004) and HBCUs (6 percent difference in 1971 between men and women and 13 percent difference in 2004). "The findings reveal that the gender gap is not a new issue among black college students, but it continues to widen in many areas of access, achievement, and important college and graduate school preparation behaviors. This portends even lower attainment rates for black males in the future," said the lead author of the report, WalterR. Allen, UCLA professor of education and of sociology and holder ofthe Allan Murray Cartter Chair in Higher Education. These findings are based on a new study, "Black Undergraduates From Bakke to Grutter," focusing on the status, trends and prospects ofblack college freshmen over the past 33 years. This unique study usesnational data collected from 1971 to 2004 through the CooperativeInstitutional Research Program. The findings are based on theresponses of more than half a million black freshmen attending morethan 1,100 baccalaureate-granting colleges and universities. The data have been statistically weighted to represent the responses for the 3.6 million black first-time, full-time freshmen students attendinginstitutions of higher learning during that period."Black students have been more likely to attend four-year institutionsthan other underrepresented groups. This can be attributed to the longtradition of historically black college attendance," said Sylvia Hurtado, director of the Higher Education Research Institute.
"This report is the most comprehensive look at black students as they enterboth historically black and predominantly white four-yearin stitutions. "
-Fewer black students from lowest income groups; record percentage ofstudents from highest income categories.
Today, students from the lowest income groups make up a smallerproportion of the total black freshman population than in 1971 (30percent in 2004 vs. 41 percent in 1971). Although the percentage hasdecreased over time at both types of institutions, higherconcentrations of low-income students can be found at HBCUs (43percent in 1971 vs. 34 percent in 2004) compared to PWIs (39 percentvs. 28 percent, respectively). Conversely, there are more black students in the highest incomecategories than ever before (2 percent in 1971 vs. 13 percent in2004), with parents who are college educated (15 percent of mothers in1971 vs. 40 percent in 2004) and who work in white-collar professions(44 percent of fathers in blue-collar occupations in 1971 vs. 15percent in 2004). A gap still remains regarding black students and thegeneral first-time, full-time freshman population, where more than 53 percent of students reported parents with at least a college degree in2004."This pattern is indicative of college admission and recruitmentprocedures that privilege more affluent students regardless of color,"Allen said.
-Black students better prepared for college; educational aspirations remain highBlack students are better prepared academically than before for entering college.
Between 1971 and 2003, there were substantial decreases in black first-year college students who felt they needed special tutoring or remedial work in English (22 percent in 1971 vs.16 percent in 2003), reading (13 percent vs. 7 percent), mathematics (56 percent vs. 44 percent), science (30 percent vs. 21 percent) andforeign language (36 percent vs. 21 percent) at college entry. Additionally, there were substantial gains between 1984 and 2004 inthe proportion who met or exceeded the minimum years of study in English, mathematics, foreign language and science based on recommendations of the National Commission on Excellence in Education. In 2004, 97 percent of all black freshman college students hadcompleted 4 years of English and 3 years of mathematics. However, moreresearch is needed regarding the types of courses black students have access to in high school, as they were still not as likely as theirfreshman peers to meet or exceed foreign language (89 percent vs. 92percent) or physical science (45 percent vs. 59 percent) course recommendations, indicating dis tinctions remain in curricular trackand quality of schools black students attend. Comparisons of the 1971 and 2004 cohorts of black freshmen also revealsignificant upward trends in overall academic preparation andaspirations.
In 1971, 8 percent of black freshmen reported high schoolgrade averages of "A-" or better, as compared to 20 percent offreshmen overall. In 2004, 28 percent of black freshmen were in thisrange. Despite significant increases among black freshmen, asignificantly higher percentage (48 percent) of the general freshmenpopulation reported "A" grades.Educational aspirations remain high. Twenty-four percent of blackstudents intended to obtain doctoral degrees, as compared to 17percent of the general population of students. Black students alsowere slightly more likely to express interest in professional degreesthan were students overall â€” medical degrees (12 percent vs. 9percent) and law degrees (6 percent vs. 5 percent). Black women weretwice as likely (16 percent) to aspire toward medical degrees thanwere men (8 percent). This gender difference is more pronounced amongblack students than for the general student population interested inmedical careers (11 percent of women vs. 7 percent of men).
-Political and civic engagement
Over the decades, there has been a trend toward conservative and"middle of the road" political orientations among freshmen. Blackstudents are still more likely to identify as "far left" or "liberal"than the general freshmen population (36 percent vs. 30 percent), butthey are less likely to characterize themselves today as politically "liberal" (36 percent) than in 1971 (50 percent). This fact also isevident in their changing views on particular issues, including abortion (59 percent believed it "should be legal" in 1981 vs. 53percent in 2004) and homosexuality (28 percent believed "homosexual relationships should be prohibited" in 2001 vs. 36 percent in 2004). Black students also are entering colleges with strong commitments tocivic and political participation, coupled with intentions to assumeleadership roles. Students increasingly anticipated involvement involunteer work during college (19 percent in 1990 vs. 30 percent in2004), but students at HBCUs placed higher importance on volunteering(34 percent of HBCU students expected to volunteer in college comparedto 28 percent of students at PWIs). While a growing desire wasobserved among students to influence social values, this increase wasmore significant for students attending HBCUs (from 39 percent in 1971to 52 percent in 2003). Black freshmen also placed increasedimportance on becoming community leaders, with more black students atHBCUs being committed to community leadership than students at PWIs in2003 (47 percent vs. 40 percent). This trend was accompanied by alarge increase in the percentage of students who felt that theypossessed skills that would help them fulfill these roles. "Our findings reveal the changing face of black student college participation since 1971. We see cause for both celebration and concern in these data. While there has been considerable progress, significant racial disparities persist," Allen said.