Education News

How Factors Before College Impact Success For Students Of Color

Turns out the biggest reasons behind the difference have nothing to do with what’s happening on campus.

In Texas students of color are less likely to finish college than their white peers. More than 60 percent of that gap can be explained by factors before college, according to a new study.
In Texas students of color are less likely to finish college than their white peers. More than 60 percent of that gap can be explained by factors before college, according to a new study.

In Texas, the majority of white students finish college. But for black and Hispanic students, graduation rates are 50 percent or less.

To find out why, one researcher looked at what these students brought with them to college, starting in kindergarten.

“For both groups we saw the overwhelming factor contributing to the racial college completion gap was high school segregation, racial segregation in the high schools,” said Stella Flores, a professor at New York University.

Flores also found some differences behind the gap. Hispanic students in Texas faced a lot of poverty while black students didn’t have as much access to rigorous classes in high school that would prepare them for college.

“We can’t ignore the demographic realities of race,” Flores said. “The majority of our students in Texas are now Latino and across the nation the majority of students are non-white, so investing in the success, it’s an utmost economic priority.”

Flores added that the study shows that both school districts and also universities need to tailor their services to what certain kids need.

“This doesn’t relieve the higher education sector from any responsibility or accountability,” she said. “But it does encourage us to take a wider look across the pipeline to understand how to increase college completion. The way we’re looking at it now is not sufficient.”

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Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

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