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Journal Article

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The Journal of Higher Education





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Over the past decade, the number of African American and Hispanic undergraduates enrolled in colleges and universities nationwide has increased by 32% and 98%, respectively, whereas the number of White undergraduates has declined by 1% (Nettles & Perna, 1997). Over the same period, the number of bachelor's degrees awarded increased by 43% for African Americans and 90% for Hispanics, com- pared with an 11% increase for Whites. Although more African Americans and Hispanics are attending college and receiving degrees than ever before (Nettles & Perna, 1997), African Americans and Hispanics continue to be underrepresented among both undergraduates (at 10.0% and 8.0%, respectively) and bachelor's degree recipients (7.0% and 4.2%) relative to their representation in the traditional college-age population (14.3% and 13.7%).

Although much is known about the factors that affect college attendance, only recently have researchers begun to explore variations in college enrollment behavior among students of different racial/ethnic groups (e.g., Freeman, 1997; Hurtado, Inkelas, Briggs, & Rhee, 1997; Jackson, 1990; McDonough, Antonio, & Trent, 1997; St. John & Noell, 1989). Freeman (1997) examined the barriers African American high- school students perceive to limit access to higher education for African Americans. McDonough, Antonio, and Trent (1997) explored differences in the variables related to the decision of African Americans to at- tend historically Black rather than predominantly White institutions. Hurtado and her colleagues (1997) examined differences among African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and Whites in the number of applications submitted to postsecondary educational institutions and attendance at the first-choice institution. St. John and Noell (1989) and Jackson (1990) explored differences in the effects of financial aid on college enrollment among African Americans, Hispanics, and Whites. Such research is a necessary step in the process of identifying the most appropriate policies and practices for raising the representation of African Americans and Hispanics among college enrollments and degree recipients to that of their representation in the population. This study builds on prior research by comparing the college enrollment decisions of African Americans, Hispanics, and Whites using an econometric model of college enrollment that has been expanded to include measures of social and cultural capital as proxies for expectations, preferences, tastes, and uncertainty.

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© The Ohio State University Press



Date Posted: 20 August 2015

This document has been peer reviewed.