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College Access

Our current research topics related to college access include college admissions, affirmative action, financing, diversity, and underrepresented students in higher education.

Two thousand-eight marked the 30th anniversary of the Supreme Court's Bakke decision, which legally upheld the consideration of race as a factor in admissions decisions for the purpose of promoting diversity in higher education. Such affirmative action policies have opened the doors of selective colleges and universities to many more minority students than might have otherwise had opportunities. While access to higher education has improved for minorities in this country, that progress is still severely threatened due, in part, to a series of very serious attacks on affirmative action. In 1996, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, in Hopwood v. University of Texas Law School, ended all considerations of race in admissions, recruitment, and scholarships at the undergraduate and graduate school level at all public institutions under its jurisdiction (i.e., Texas, Mississippi, and Louisiana). In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 209, a ballot initiative that also eliminated affirmative action in education, employment, and contracting throughout the state. And, the University of Michigan faced legal challenges in 2003 to both its undergraduate and law school admissions policies that give consideration to race/ethnicity.

 

Recent College Access Research

Research Item Building on Success: Educational Diversity and Equity in Kentucky Higher Education
This comprehensive study of equity in the entire Kentucky system not only assesses the state's progress under plans developed to comply with federal civil rights law over the past 26 years, but also recommends strategies for the next generation.
Research Item Charting the Future of College Affirmative Action: Legal Victories, Continuing Attacks, and New Research
American higher education has struggled now for nearly a half century to find ways to better serve and reflect the diversity of American society and to train leaders who can cross over the social divisions that have limited the American dream since its beginnings. We have learned that it can be done, that there are major benefits to the educational and research missions of our campuses, and that we know how to do it better. It is very important that our university faculties and leaders not give up on what has been a notable success but find the best ways to preserve it in a time of polarization and help to build a successful multiracial America.
Research Item Higher Education and the Color Line
In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decisions upholding affirmative action, Higher Education and the Color Line outlines the agenda for achieving racial justice in higher education in the next generation. Weaving together current research and a discussion of overarching demographic, legal, and political issues, this comprehensive and timely book focuses on the racial transformation of higher education and the structural barriers that perpetuate racial stratification at the postsecondary level.
Research Item Race and the Metropolitan Origins Of Postsecondary Access to Four Year Colleges: The Case of Greater Boston
The Metro Boston Equity Initiative is devoted to analyzing race relations and racial equity issues not simply in the city of Boston, but across the entire metropolitan region. Although greater Boston still has a large white majority and suburban sectors with very little diversity, immigration of Latinos and Asians is driving the region’s growth, and much of this population increase is taking place well outside of the city limits. Changing patterns of school enrollment provide a good sense of the region’s near-term future.
Research Item State Merit Scholarship Programs and Racial Inequality
Unmet financial need – the gap between the costs of attending college and the resources available to students from their families and from all sources of financial aid – presents a major barrier to college for students from lower-income families. The federal Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance found that unmet need is a barrier both to students’ initial enrollment in college and to their ability to persist through and earn a degree.
Research Item Appearance and Reality in the Sunshine State: The Talented 20 Program in Florida
After a review of Florida state and institutional data and interviews with staff at five campuses of the Florida State University System and several Florida state agencies, this report describes the history, implementation, and effects of the Talented 20 Program. The report concludes that Talented 20 Plan is, in fact, not race-neutral and is not an effective alternative to race-conscious affirmative action.
Research Item Percent Plans in College Admissions: A Comparative Analysis of Three States’ Experiences
Our public schools are becoming increasingly segregated by race and income and the segregated schools are, on average, strikingly inferior in many important ways, including the quality and experience of teachers and the level of competition from other students. Given these facts, it is clear that students of different races do not receive an equal chance for college.
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