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The Nation

Colleges Add Minorities, Group Says

October 09, 2003|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The number of minority students on America's campuses has more than doubled since 1981, but white students are still more likely to attend college, according to a report issued Wednesday.

The annual Minorities in Higher Education Annual Status Report issued by the American Council on Education found that the number of minority high school graduates age 18 to 24 attending schools in the United States jumped from nearly 2 million in 1980-81 to 4.3 million in 2000-01.

Despite the gains, the council said 40% of African Americans and 34% of Latinos attend college, compared with 46% of whites, continuing a disparity that has improved since the late 1980s but still persists.

William Harvey, the author of the study, said the findings are a reflection of American society.

"The gaps relate to some of the real fundamental social and economic conditions in this country," said Harvey, the director of the Office of Minorities in Education for the American Council on Education, a Washington-based umbrella organization representing the nation's largest institutions of higher education.

During the 20 years starting in 1980, the council said black enrollment grew by 56% to more than 1.7 million. Meanwhile, Latino enrollment tripled to 1.5 million.

The 1 million Asian Americans attending college in 2000 also tripled the 1980 enrollment.

Overall, 15.3 million students attended college classes last year, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

The council on education said Latino and African American women accounted for some of the most dramatic minority gains at both two-year and four-year institutions.

In 1980, 28% of female African American high school graduates age 18 to 24 attended college. Two decades later, the enrollment among African American women stood at 42%.

The participation rates for male African American high school graduates were not as dramatic, climbing from 30% to 37%.

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