By Janks Morton
EDUCATION | Black Women have surpassed all groups by race and gender for college entrance
For the first time since the US Census has collected data around educational attainment and enrollment, in 2011 African-American women’s enrollment in colleges has hit a record high. According to the analysis of the most recent census data, nearly 1 in 10 of every African-American females are enrolled in colleges and universities, suggesting the prohibitive barriers to entry typically associated with women and minorities may be finally eroding in post-secondary settings.
The “enrollment status of the population”— an annual report from the US Census Bureau’s CPS (current population survey) estimates the percentage of a groups educational attainment by age, s*x and racial categories—hit a record 9.7 percent in 2011 for Black Alone and Female metrics, according to the report. This represents a 31 percent increase from 2000 reporting of 7.4 percent.
The average percentage enrollment for the U.S. population is 6.9 percent (6.3 percent for males, 7.5 percent for females.)
The college enrollment rate is one measure of a country, group and individual competitiveness. The rising enrollment rate over the past decade suggests that while factors as the economic downturn, and unemployment and underemployment rates for college graduates remains high 52 percent (Andrew Sum: The Nation’s underemployed in the “Great Recession” of 2007–09,) increasing tuition costs and long-term student debt, most Americans still perceive college attendance as a value-added proposition to becoming competitive . The report shows enrollment for all groups increased 18.9 percent from 2000 to 2011.
The percentage difference between African-American Women and the next closest group is striking and now marks the first time this group (or any other group) has surpassed Asian Males. Black Female College Enrollment at 9.7 percent is a full percentage point above the next group which represents an 11.5 percent enrollment rate above Asian Females. This statistic is equally impressive in that in one year, Black Females and Asian Females surpassed Asian Males as the leading group in College enrollment (U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey: October 2010.)
In 2010, the annual report listed Asian Males leading at 9.8 percent and Black Females a close second at 9.6 percent. Asian Females followed in third at 9.5 percent. At the time of this report, no immediate details were available to explain the 10.3 percent drop in Asian Males and the 11.5 percent drop in enrollment data for Asian Females.
African-American Men have also realized significant gains over the 2000-2011 year periods. From the same data series in 2000, the Black Male College Enrollment rate was 5.2 percent and as of 2011, the rate was measured at 7.0 percent, representing a 34.6 percent increase. This is also a first as there is no longer a significant statistical difference between Black Male College Enrollment and White Female (7.1 percent.) From the Department of Education, iPEDS data reporting set in the academic year 2010-2011 there were 1,444,979 Black Males in post-secondary degree granting institutions (US Only/non-duplicated)
So what does this mean?
Overall and despite the never-ending narrative around the social, economic and educational disparities African-Americans may face in these tough times; despite the systemic barriers and the proverbial deck of cards being stacked against a community, the data and evidence provides a ray of hope oppositional to the negative imagery and information constantly describing Black culture. The facts make a case counter-intuitive to what “common sense” tells us about African-Americans. Fortunately, this group of resilient and resourceful people, who have always valued education, are once again proving “good sense” trumps the commons.