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Racial Inequality: College Enrollment and Completion

  • By: Siobhan M. Cooney & Mary E. M. McKillip
  • In: Sociology of Education: An A-to-Z Guide
  • Edited by: James Ainsworth
  • Subject:Sociology of Education (general), Sociology of Education, Education Policy

Although the gaps have narrowed in recent decades, the rates of college enrollment and completion among black, Hispanic, and Native American students in the United States continue to lag behind those of Asian American and white students. Understanding these issues is particularly important in the United States as the youth population becomes more racially and ethnically diverse. College completers are more likely than others to have jobs with high wages, retirement savings, and health insurance. Moreover, racial inequalities that limit access to the benefits of higher education produce inequalities in future generations. This article offers a brief review of the historical path to the current inequalities in college access and completion and summarizes explanatory theories for these inequities.

Any discussion of racial inequities should note that ...

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