A new study addressing how privilege and social-capital benefits White (and some Asian) students in the #collegeadmissions process over Black and LatinX students was published by the higher education consulting company, Art and Science Group. Did we really need this report to confirm what we already know? Probably not. However, there are interesting takeaways from the report:
The report's findings suggest that White students (68% of white students surveyed) have the network and social capital to rely on friends and family to provide information regarding the college admissions process as opposed to Black students (38% of Black students surveyed).
Secondly and not surprising is that 63% of non-first generation students also indicated that they could rely on their social capital for college admissions related information, while 52% of first-generation students indicated the same.
Black students apply to less colleges than White and Asian students and:
White students are more likely to attend on-campus tours.
Social Capital Responsibility
The authors of the report placed responsibility on colleges themselves to come up with more creative methods to reach traditionally underserved and historically excluded student populations. I do agree to some extent, but if colleges really wanted to reach Black and brown communities, they would. The students are there. Some colleges have pathway programs and summer institutes for economically disadvantaged students. Other colleges have partnered with high schools and counselors to bring post-secondary opportunity awareness to historically excluded student demographics. However, to fully and really address the "social-capital" problem, one must know that the answer does not lie within college outreach framework.
Addressing Social-Capital & College Information
We can argue that who you know is just as important as what you know. Disadvantaged students may not have the extensive network or come from a family background of college going behavior. So what can be done to help disadvantaged students navigate the #collegeadmissions process utilizing an increase in information and social-capital model:
Start Early: Educators need to consistently start the college-bound conversation much earlier than senior year. The earlier that students are exposed to post-secondary educational opportunities, the better. The information gathering and college exploration should begin long before junior/senior year. Counselors can include alumni guest speakers and/or host college fairs.
Summer Internship & Experiences: Educators can partner with the community to secure college-friendly experiences. These experiences should be designed to expose students to experiential learning opportunities while helping to expand the student's social network. Think mentorship, service-learning activities and professional development seminars.
Campus Visits: High schools, educators and education districts should organize campus tours for students. Although this may be done via community organizations, students may feel more comfortable if this is done by coordinating a field trip. Parent involvement also helps to motivate student success within the college exploration phase.
Apply, Apply, Apply: Economically disadvantaged students may qualify for application fee waivers. Students should maximize the waiver process and apply to about 5 - 10 schools. Guidance & CAP counselors can assist with helping students submit their applications.
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