For many American college students, the nation’s higher education system increasingly is defined by two distinct paths.
The first, taken primarily by white students, leads to the top U.S. institutions, while the other — taken mostly by blacks and Hispanic students — leads to community colleges and less prestigious open-access schools, according to a major study of college enrollment patterns over the past 20 years.
After decades of affirmative-action and diversity programs, the study released by Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce suggests that racial equality has not arrived on American campuses, analysts say.
“As much as the nation has tried, we’re not in the ideal place,” said Barmak Nassirian, director of federal policy analysis at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. “The charge often leveled at institutions of higher education is that of political correctness, that institutions are rigging the system in favor of minorities. Far from it.”
The Georgetown report finds that since 1995, more than 80 percent of all new enrollments by white students have come at the nation’s most “elite and competitive” 468 institutions.
By contrast, more than 70 percent of all new black and Hispanic students have enrolled at the nation’s “open-access two-year and four-year colleges,” a designation that includes community colleges and less-selective universities.