Friday, November 16, 2007

Students of Color at Private Universities

In response to comments to this post, I decided to take a quick gander through the internets to find the percentage of students of color at a variety of private colleges and universities, elite and not.* I split off Asian-Americans specifically, as they are not an under-represented group,** and do not include international students except insofar as they are included in other ethnicities. I was curious to find out whether, in fact, these elite schools had lower enrollments of minority students than their more mainstream peers. I selected private school specifically because their enrollment base was less likely to be geographically based -- while many people attend the local public university because it's close by, I roughly believed that private schools were more likely to have a national admissions pool. That is to say, people who are applying to private schools are more likely to apply to academically comparable schools around the country. That obviously is a wild over-generalization, but it helps stabilize the pool somewhat.

This is entirely non-scientific. The colleges were chosen by the randomized sample of "I thought of them." I did make vague efforts at geographical diversity, however, as well as include both large and small schools. Hence, each category should have 5 small colleges, and 6 larger ones.

"Elite" [Non-Asian/Asian]

Amherst: 28% (15%/13%)

Brown: 30% (16%/14%)

Carleton: 22% (12%/10%)

Chicago: 25% (12%/13%)

Duke: 32% (18%/14%)

Harvard: 30% (16%/14%)

Pomona: 33% (19%/14%)

Stanford: 47% (23%/24%)

Swarthmore: 36% (17%/19%)

Williams: 30% (19%/11%)

Yale: 30% (17%/13%)

"Non-Elite" (Non-Asian/Asian)

Allegheny: 6% (3%/3%)

Beloit: 9% (7%/2%)

Bennington: 6% (4%/2%)

Boston University: 22% (8%/13%)

Drexel: 26% (13%/13%)

Goucher: 11% (8%/3%)

Seton Hall: 28% (22%/6%)

St. Olaf: 8% (3%/5%)

Tulsa: 17% (15%/2%)

Villanova: 17% (10%/7%)

Wake Forest: 14% (9%/5%)

As I said, this is entirely non-scientific. However, it does point that elite schools tend to have a higher enrollment of students of color -- particularly in small schools. Non-elite liberal arts colleges are almost painfully White -- only Goucher managed to eke its way into double-digits in its minority enrollment. Meanwhile, Carleton, the least diverse "elite" school, still had a higher percentage of non-White students than all but three "non-elite" schools. The most diverse non-elite school, Seton Hall, would have tied for 9th with Amherst College on the elite list.

A few words about the data. First of all, it's entirely non-scientific. I plugged in colleges as they sprang to mind. My only qualification is that they were not public universities, and not explicitly religious academies (a religious affiliation, as in St. Olaf's, was okay). Second, it's incomplete. Many students don't report their ethnicity. So, for example, the total percentages for Amherst's students of color only reaches 28% -- but Caucasians are only listed as comprising 45% of the population. Third, the variety of locations for international students confounds that data somewhat -- I don't know whether they are incorporated into ethnic groups, and if not, I don't know how the international student population breaks down in terms of White/non-White.

* This is a totally arbitrary designation by me, but when I say "elite" I mean the absolute cream of the crop. The schools I designate as "non-elite" are still fine institutions in their own right.

** This is itself misleading, as while East and South Asians tend to do quite well in the college admissions game, Southeast and Island Asian students are, in fact, quite underrepresented. It is somewhat of a anomaly to group, say, Koreans, Indians, Hmong, and Filipinos in the same group. But there is no way to disconnect them, so I make the compromises I must.


Anonymous said...

Do you think there's anything to the trend that shows that the non-elite Catholic colleges have more diversity than the non-elite non-Catholic colleges?

PG said...

The discrepany between South/ East Asians, versus Southeast Asians, I will bet you has to do with cherry picking versus refugee status. Because most Indian or Japanese immigrants weren't admitted to the U.S. unless they could prove themselves to be educated or high skilled (and preferably English speaking), these immigrants came with an advantage over the average person from their home nations. In contrast, lots of Southeast Asians came as refugees, which means they obviously were deprived of any wealth they had in the first place, and may not have been educated or English speaking. This naturally has an effect on how successful their children will be in the U.S.

Stentor said...

only Goucher managed to eke its way into double-digits in its minority enrollment.

I'm obviously not understanding something here, because it looks from your chart like non-elite Seton Hall, Drexel, BU, Tulsa,Villanova, and Wake Forest all have more minorities than Goucher. Seton Hall and Drexel even beat Carleton, though your larger point about the relative diversity of the two groups still stands.

And it seems my alma maters are whiter than average -- 9%/7% for Colgate (elite) and 5%/4% for Clark (non-elite).

David Schraub said...

Seton Hall, Drexel, BU, Tulsa, Villanova, and Wake Forest aren't liberal arts colleges; those are the large, non-elite schools on the list, while Allegheny, Beloit, Bennington, Goucher, and St. Olaf's are small liberal arts colleges.

Mark said...

Two comments, I wonder what the percentages of these schools might have been back in the prehistoric age when I went to school (1980-90)? I'm not sure where you dug those number up, but the numbers from previous decades might also be available. I don't remember the American Black population as large as 12% back then.

You might also be interested in this post for the two pdf studies on women in Academia and their treatment.

Superdestroyer said...

Considering that Asian-Americans make up only about 5% of the high school seniors, it is amazing how much of a larger percentage that Asian-American students are in the student body at elite universities.

It definitely looks like that at elite universities, there is an unwritten rule that the number of black and Hispanic students should be about equal to the number of Asian-American students.

Also, Stanford's numbers (probably due to the changing demographics in California) resemble the diversity of second tier state universities.

There was an article a few years ago the Washington Post had an article about applications to the Naval Academy. A copy can be found here(
One of the good quotes is

This led to apparent howlers like the student with an un-Hispanic last name attending the flossiest private school in his part of Texas, who identified himself as Hispanic and received preferential treatment. There have also been cases of "minority" students being identified as "white" by their schools

I wonder how many of the blacks and Hispanics at Harvard or the other elite schools fit into the same category as claiming to be Hispanic or American Indian where they are not really.