College Recruiters Guilty Of Avoiding Low-Income, Minority Schools: Report

Without visits from recruiters, low-income students never discover college campuses that exist beyond their hometowns.
By @katierucke |
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    A prospective student views a booth at a college admissions fair in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. (Photo/COD Newsroom via Flickr)

    A prospective student views a booth at a college admissions fair in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. (Photo/COD Newsroom via Flickr)

    During a time when more and more low-income high school students are working to obtain a college degree, college recruiters are less likely to visit low-income schools with large minority student-body populations than other high schools, according to a new report in the Los Angeles Times.

    For example, The Webb Schools, a private high school in Claremont, Calif., attracted 113 college recruiters, including from Ivy League schools for its some 106 students in the senior class. Jefferson High School on the other hand, a low-income public school with 280 seniors in South Los Angeles, only had visits from eight college recruiters.

    As the Los Angeles Times reported, “Among schools in affluent communities: La Canada High School hosted 127 visits from recruiters between August and November. Palisades Charter on the Westside, 133; the private Marlborough School, a girls campus in Hancock Park, 102.

    “Corona del Mar, a public school in Newport Beach, had 85, sometimes booking as many as six in a single day. On Oct. 10, for example, representatives of Pepperdine, Yale, Lehigh, Washington State, Columbia and Whitworth, were there between 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., according to college coordinator Mary Russell. The recruiters meet with students in a special lounge recently refurbished with parent donations.

    “By contrast, Pasadena High School had 20 visits over the fall semester; Compton High, five; Hoover High in Glendale, 15; Santa Ana High, five; Belmont High near downtown Los Angeles, about 25; Roosevelt High in Boyle Heights, 20.”

    Though college recruiters failure to visit a high school doesn’t mean that those students won’t be accepted into the school, recruiters are often a way many low-income students discover college campuses that exist beyond their hometowns. During these visits, recruiters can also discover those star academic students.

    Counselors and education experts say that without these visits, some students may not understand how to properly fill out college entrance and financial aid paperwork as well.

    Shaun R. Harper, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education, called the findings “shameful.” And Gregory Wolniak, director of New York University’s Center for Research on Higher Education Outcomes, who has studied how high school alumni enrollment networks help students get into college, said that “Having visits from schools can serve to compensate for some of those family background differences.”

    “Underserved communities have trouble getting resources and access to things like that,” said Jefferson Principal Michael Taft. He added that his school is no longer able to keep a full-time counselor on staff due to budget cuts, which has reduced the number of college recruiters that visit the school, as there is no one to encourage them to visit a low-income, predominantly minority public school.

    Although recruiters are limited in the amount of time they have to visit high schools, Robert Springall, admissions dean at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, said that recruiters should be careful not to lock themselves in “a circle of colleagues and schools,” explaining “it doesn’t necessarily give you great opportunities to discover completely new schools.”

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