Getting Them Enrolled Is Only Half the Battle: College Success as a Function of Race or Ethnicity, Gender, and Class

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Abstract

This study examines the gender and racial or ethnic gaps in college grades and graduation of a 1999 freshman cohort of students attending 24 selective predominantly White institutions (PWIs) and the factors that account for observed gaps. The study is guided by the question of whether gender, race or ethnicity, and socioeconomic status combine to affect college outcomes or whether they interact so that outcomes are more positive or adverse for one group than another. Gender gaps were observed for Black and Latino students. For Black students, the gender gap in degree attainment widened once sociode-mographic factors were considered. In contrast, the gender gap for Latino students narrowed and became insignificant when sociodemographics were controlled. Additional within-group interactions were also evident. For example, the 6-year college graduation rates were higher for Black females than for males whose mothers did not have college degrees, but no gender gap existed when the mother had a college degree. These results show that among this sample of academically motivated students, the significance of gender depends on race and socioeconomic status. This suggests that improving minority success, especially for Black men at PWIs, requires extending the analysis beyond prior academic preparation to creating more supportive college environments.

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