African American Enrollment at Highly Ranked American Universities Increasing

By: Jennifer Magdalene

The number of black men and women accepted at top U.S. universities has increased last year compared to 2020 according to the annual survey of The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education (JBHE). It should be noted that progress has been substantial in the past decades. In 2021, 18 high-ranked universities have first year classes that were more than 10% black. The uptake of African Americans stems primarily from the desire of higher educational institutions to increase diversity on their campuses. Black student enrollment at the nation’s top universities and colleges is also an important indicator that educational equality in the country is moving in the right direction.

What Motivates Black Men and Women to Pursue Postsecondary Education

The U.S. Department of Education figures indicate that the number of African Americans pursuing a college education has increased significantly in the last 50 years. According to the dissertation of Crawford of Rutgers, education is viewed as a ‘catalyst for positive change’ in view of its benefits to the individuals and communities. Duster also confirms that it opens doors from employment to economic control. DuBois, in his work, ‘The Education of Black People,’ credits higher education in the production of character that would produce educated individuals to help develop the community.

However, even though African Americans are motivated to pursue higher education, there are many barriers that they have to overcome. One such barrier is the teachers’ perception of student abilities. For example, instructors have lower expectations for black students, according to findings by MSU. Introverted students may also not be appreciated versus those who are outgoing and sociable. However, an introverted personality is linked to a higher academic achievement compared to an extroverted personality. Introverted students may be reserved, but they are deep thinkers and therefore, introverts excel in higher education. However, a student’s decision to continue with education is dependent, too, on social support in addition to financial ability.

Areas for Improvement

This year’s data revealed that six universities saw an increase of over 40% in black first-year enrollment, while Carnegie Mellon University nearly doubled its acceptance of African American students. It should also be noted that overall enrollments were down at most schools for the 2020-2021 academic year. Due to the pandemic, many students took out a gap year. On the other hand, Notre Dame reported that the increase of first-year enrollments among blacks increased because of active efforts in recruitment and expansion of financial assistance. So yes, these factors can increase the participation of African Americans at highly ranked universities and colleges in the nation.

Positive educational experiences can also influence the decision to pursue higher education and aim to get into the top schools. It’s very important that students have positive relationships with teachers and feel secure in their environment.

Photo Credit: Felipe Gregate



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