The Pursuit of Access, Equity, and Diversity in Public Higher Education Social Capital Considerations and Underrepresented Minority Enrollment in California, Texas, and Michigan Universities




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Admission policies are one of the mechanisms that university public administrators utilize to increase student access and diversity. In some cases, socioeconomic inequalities and barriers to affirmative action limit the ability of universities to increase access to higher education for underrepresented minorities. This research examined the relationship between combinations of admission factors and African American and Hispanic enrollment in a sample of 54 public four-year universities in California, Texas, and Michigan. Specifically, using universities as the unit of analysis and secondary data collected in an annual survey of colleges and universities, this study develops a sociological theoretical framework to consider the role of university admissions policy on underrepresented (URM) student enrollment. The study categorized character and personal qualities, essays, and level of participation in extracurricular activities and volunteer work as social capital admissions factors. A set of human capital admissions factors were examined including standardized test scores, high school grade point average vii (GPA), high school class rank, and secondary school record. The study used a zero-truncated negative binomial regression model to test the relationship between the level of importance assigned to each admission factor by sample universities and African American and Hispanic enrollment figures from 2006 to 2012. Although it was expected that universities assigning higher importance to social capital factors would be positively correlated with underrepresented minority enrollment, the results showed that no single social capital factor or combination of factors were positively related to both African American and Hispanic enrollment. The findings of this research inform university admission policy-making by demonstrating that race-based admissions policies may be a necessary means of achieving diversity and increasing access.



Education, Higher, Universities and colleges—Admission, African American college students, Hispanic American college students, Social capital (Sociology), Human capital


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