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Higher Education and Black Men

The American Council on Education has issued its annual report on minorities in higher education. In their latest report (2007), ACE announced that although more black students enrolled in college than previously, blacks continued to “trail whites in the % of 18- to 24-year-old high school graduates enrolled in college. 42.8% of all white 18 to 24 year olds enrolled in higher education while only 32.7% of blacks and 24.8% of Hispanics enrolled. In addition, there is a dramatic difference between black men and women. Only 28% of black men 18 to 24 were enrolled in college while 37.1% of black women were enrolled. A similar trend exists for Hispanics – 20.7% of men and 29.5% of women. The report concluded that there are contributing factors that lead to young black and Hispanic men failing to enroll in college. These factors include poverty conditions within which young black and Hispanic men live, preference for immigrants over black males in considering hiring, lack of jobs where most young black and Hispanic men live, poor quality of schools in black and Hispanic neighborhoods, high rate of imprisonment for young black men Hispanics, and welfare reforms that do not help black and Hispanic men get into the workforce. Yet, there are solutions to these issues if this country’s educational and political leaders are willing to invest in those solutions. President Hrabowski from the University of Maryland, Baltimore Campus, has demonstrated that black and Hispanic men can be attracted to and be successful in college. Hrabowski’s success is dependent upon high school support for minorities including presenting students with college options in the 9th grade through 12th grade. Nicole Hurd at the University of North Carolina directs the National College Advisory Corps that recruits young people to help high school students plan their college searches in 18 high schools across the state. Her work is supported by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. There are other programs across the nation that have also been successful in helping minorities to attend college. But in order for these kinds of programs to be replicated across the nation, our educational and political leadership has to care; they have to make college access a priority.

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