It may seem paradoxical that even as more black and Hispanic students attend college, America's system of higher education is becoming more racially polarized and unequal, with whites far more likely to graduate, earn advanced degrees or find good jobs than their minority peers.
Yet that's exactly what researchers at Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce recently found. The reason? While white students are increasingly clustered in the nation's top 468 schools with selective admissions policies, most of the nation's minority students attend open-access and community colleges that spend substantially less on instruction than their more selective counterparts — leading to wildly divergent opportunities and outcomes for students.
"The American postsecondary system increasingly has become a dual system of racially separate pathways, even as overall minority access to the postsecondary system has grown dramatically," said Jeff Strohl, the center's director. His research suggests that selective colleges spend two to five times as much on instruction as schools without admissions requirements, and that such disparities are helping to replicate inequality.