Finding minority graduate students may not be easy
Enrollment rates in graduate and vocational programs have been healthy over the past year, even in the midst of the pandemic. Graduate enrollments posted small gains for both semesters of the past academic year, as undergraduate enrollment plummeted.
Corn a new report released today by the EAB, a consultation group for schools and colleges, warns that colleges should not rely on a continued increase in graduate enrollment. In fact, the National Center for Education Statistics predicts that colleges will lose 1% of graduate enrollment each year by 2029.
In particular, the EAB study focuses on students in minority higher and vocational schools. The report – based on a survey of 2,234 adults who are current or potential graduate students – found that minority students are more likely than white students to say the pandemic has changed their plans, keeping them away from higher education .
“More than half of Asian students surveyed said the pandemic had an impact on their education plans. African, African American and black students have also been unevenly affected by the pandemic, 45% of students from this group indicating that COVID-19 has affected their plans to pursue higher education, ”the report says.
Overall, 52.4% of potential Asian students said the pandemic affected their potential to go to college, compared to 44.5% of blacks and 30.6% of Latinxes. Among whites, only 25.3% said the pandemic affected their graduate school plans. (The vast majority of graduate and professional students pursue master’s studies, not doctoral studies)
“In addition to students of color, nearly 60% of international students planning to pursue graduate studies in the United States said the pandemic had altered their education plans, compared with 28% of their domestic counterparts,” says the report. “International students have not only faced obstacles faced by domestic students during the pandemic, but also international travel restrictions, difficulties in obtaining a visa, and difficulties in meeting admission requirements such as Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). “
At the same time that minority students may be more difficult to recruit, all students express more interest in diversity as a factor in choosing which graduate and professional programs to seek. On a scale of one to five (five being the most important), this year’s survey found that students rated “class diversity” at 3.24. Over the past three years it has been 3.06.
In terms of graduate students and minority professionals, costs may be a key factor, according to the report.
“As in the past, the cost most often deters students from applying or enrolling in graduate programs. Almost half of the students surveyed who did not plan to pursue higher education immediately said that more affordable tuition fees would motivate them to return to school. Additionally, 32 percent of students surveyed identified the “high cost of attending school” as their main barrier to enrollment, “the report said.
This is particularly the case for minority students. “Although students from all walks of life cited the cost of the program as the main barrier to enrollment, African, African-American and black students and international students disproportionately shared that the cost of the program is the main one. reason why they cannot or do not want to pursue higher education, ”the report says. “For example, nearly half of African, African-American, and black students surveyed said ‘high cost of attendance’ was their biggest barrier to enrollment, compared with 28 percent of white students, 19 percent of Asian students and 7 percent of Hispanic students. / Latinx students.
Amy Luitjens, consultant and director of EAB, said the message about student costs was “much more nuanced” than just being cheap.
Institutions “need to be very clear” about what students are actually paying (minus available aid), and also need to talk about return on investment, she said.
Graduate students and professionals alike need to feel that a degree will lead to advancement, she said.