Black Students Enrolled In Colleges Decreasing
Black enrollment in higher education has dropped while the number of other minority students on the nation's college campuses, including Harvard, has increased, according to two studies released this week.
The number of Blacks enrolled in college has dropped 3.3 percent since 1980, the American Council on Education (ACE) reported on Tuesday. In the same period, 33.6 percent more Asian Americans and 12.1 percent more Hispanics entered institutions of higher learning, the Washington, D.C.-based ACE reported.
While Blacks comprise 10.1 percent of all undergraduates nationwide, their representation at Harvard is lower. The percentage of Black Harvard students in the Class of '83 was 8.3, but fell to 5.7 percent of the Class of '88 and has risen to 6.9 percent of this year's freshman class, according to figures from the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid.
At the same time, colleges have spent 63 percent more money recruiting students in the last five years, Educational Testing Services (ETS) and five other educational groups reported in a study released Monday.
"[Recruiting] has worked for all the minority groups but the Blacks," said Hunter M. Breland, senior research scientist for ETS. "There is something definitely wrong with the marketing for Blacks."
"The Reagan Administration and the nation's universities are to blame fordiscouraging Blacks from going to college," saidReginald Wilson, ACE's director of minorityconcerns. "There is no national leadership torecruit minorities."
"The peak of affirmative action ended in the'70s. Colleges just are not making a substantialeffort to attract minorities anymore," Wilsonsaid.
Running In Place
"We've seen the numbers [of Blacks going tocollege decline] and we've had to increase ourrecruitment just to maintain the same number ofapplications," said Jennifer D. Carey '78,director of Harvard's minority recruitmentprogram. The number of Black applications hasremained between 600 and 700 per year since 1972,Carey said.
With undergraduates visiting inner-city schoolsand alumni contacting accepted minority studentsto encourage them to attend, the admissions officehas redoubled its efforts to win a shrinking poolof talented minority students, Carey said.
Meanwhile Asian-Americans at Harvard haveincreased from 6.3 percent of the Class of '83 to12.1 percent of the Class of '90. Hispanicenrollment has remained constant at slightly morethan 5 percent, the figures revealed.
Breland noted that colleges have increasedrecruitment budgets to compensate for ananticipated drop in college applications in thepost-Baby Boom era. While the number of highschool graduates has dropped since 1980, therecruitment efforts of colleges have beensuccessful in maintaining the number of studentsenrolled in four-year programs, Breland said.
Breland also pointed to more rigorous collegeacceptance standards, the higher cost of educationand Reagan Administration cuts in federalfinancial aid for college students as contributorsto dropping Black enrollment.
"We have been able to offer the same financialaid packages," said Carey. She said the mainreason for the lower number of Blacks at Harvardis a decline in the quality of the public schoolsystem.
Shannah V. Braxton '88, co-chairman of theBlack Students' Association, agreed. "Insufficientschooling for Blacks lies at the heart of theproblem," she said. "Black students are neglectedby counselors and teachers. They are notencouraged to develop their potential or to enrollin honors programs," Braxton said.
Braxton said she believes that Harvard could domore to attract Black students. "We should informminorities that you don't have to be the son of arich, Anglo-Saxon corporate executive to go here,"Braxton said.
"Many poor minority students really believethat Harvard is completely out of their reach,"Braxton said