ResearchProblemUnderrepresented Minority Access inHigher Education The Era of Hegemony in highereducation is known as the golden age (Cohen, 187). Soldiers were returning homefrom World War II. The Service Readjustment Act of 1944 later named the G.I.Bill was initiated to issue soldiers and veterans pay to enroll them in collegeto increase the attendance rate (Cohen, 194).
Colleges were affordable. The1960’s gave students a voice. Curriculum was based on student engagement.Finances for higher education increased and higher education was available for”some”.
Minority groups were underrepresented during this period. Access for”all” became the focus for this era. Access is the main focus for highereducation. Social, cultural, and political views causes some individuals in theU. S. to be underserved in higher education. Blacks, Hispanics, women, andother minorities are faced with barriers and challenges as it related to highereducation.
Although enrollment rates, graduation rates, and diverse campuseshave flourished, minorities are still unequally represented in educationalaccess and opportunity. One particular minority group, African Americans areunderrepresented in higher education. The steps taken to increase educationalaccess in the Hegemony Era were crucial turning points for African-Americans ineducational access and success. There are still gaps that separate highereducation in African-Americans from other minority and majority groups, butthrough financial aid, college readiness, support and student understanding,African-American students can benefit from higher education.
History of Access Black students did not have a foundation foreducation before the Civil War. Blacks were prohibited any education in severalparts of the nation. Following the Civil War, the Second Morrill Act of 1890required that states with racially segregated education institutions to provideland-grants for establishing education for Black students. The new publicinstitutions for Blacks provided courses in agriculture, mechanics, andindustrial subjects. Many separated but equal institutions wereestablished under federal law. However, the breakthrough case of Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (1954), said thateducational institutions were unequal, and the case ruled that this was in violationof the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, setting theroadmap for integration. However, the act did not specify exactly when to beginthe integration process, that decision would be determined by individual states(Cohen, 195-196).
This was no means a victory for Blacks, formany whites would not comply to the ruling. Southern states governors such as LittleRock, Arkansas ordered the National Guard to block students from entering; Virginia’sgovernor shut down integrated schools; the Universities of Mississippiand Alabama governors disobeyed orders (Cohen, 196). Ten years after, the CivilRights of 1964 was introduced authorizing federal power to enforce the rightsof all people to vote, to use public facilities, to gain employment, and tosupport schools and colleges by providing in-service training designed to aidstaff with problems ensued by desegregation in schools (Cohen, 197). The HigherEducation Act of 1965 made it possible for grants to be issued to HistoricallyBlack Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) for faculty and curriculum improvement,services for students, exchange programs, and improvements for administration.Affirmative Action, introduced by U.S. President John F.
Kennedy, was thenimplemented by President Lyndon B. Johnson, in 1965, played a major role inAfrican-American participation and enrollment in higher education (Harper,397). If the cost of attending college is affordable, if the college experienceis a feeling of encouragement, acceptability and engagement, and if the facultyis supportive to the needs of the students, then higher education could driveAfrican-American students to degree-granting success.Inequity Socialinequity is a unique challenge to our education system as access to educationalopportunity is the key tool for improving socially. For several years, expertshave used new programs and policies, but these intervention methods have notproduced, long-term improvements for all populations. To offer the support ofthe educational needs of underrepresented students, policy makers and educatorsshould face the fact that there is not a just one intervention strategy thatwould sustain meaningful and long-lasting improvements.
It will take severaltechniques and methods that should be started early such as interventions thateducate students with about college academics and financing; offer studentstransitional support that focuses on opportunities to earn college credit andsetting pathways for transferring from two year colleges to four-year colleges;expose students to academic and social integration programs, learningcommunities, diversity initiatives, and campus culture that offers the best teachingpractices for students. Social inequality is one of the most difficultobstacles that we face here in America, especially when opportunities andrewards are given based on diverse social positions or statuses within a groupor society. Our educational system is the foundation of these obstacles whichis perceived as the problem and the solution. The education system continuesthese disadvantages through dissimilar access to opportunities and provides themajor tool for social mobility. For several years, policymakers and researchershave tested new policies, programs, and interventions to encourage the successof disadvantaged students. While there has been progress, some importantchallenges still exist. For instance,low-income student enrollment in colleges has increased, however, thesestudents are still underrepresented compared to their peers of higher socioeconomicstatus.
Policies, such as the Pell Grant program, used to make college moreaffordable, have been important for providing opportunities for postsecondaryeducation, but has proven to be a failure by not meeting demand or keeping upwith the expenses of college. Furthermore, at some certain institutions, racialand ethnic minority students have increased their roles in attendance, butstill are underrepresented. Despitethese persistent inequalities, literature to identifies several keys for improvingaccess and success in higher education for underrepresented students who areconsidered minorities or students of color, low-income families and communities students, Englishlanguage learners students, disabled students, immigrants, and those studentswho are first generation students in their families enrolled in college. Access to higher education is available for allminorities: military (active or veteran), Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, NativeAmericans, disabled students, and all women. Legislature, finance, socialupheaval, and student attitudes made higher education accessible to those whotook advantage of the choice.
Bridging the gap between African Americanstudents and other groups is the higher education issue of today. The Gap Thereis a gap between ethnic minority and majority students when it comes toattaining higher education degrees (Myers, 2003). Racial or ethnic minority studentsare apt to leaving post-secondary institutions than majority students. This isa significant, on-going problem for an increasing number of minority studentsin grades K–12 and these students are seemingly not entering or graduating fromcollege (Keller, 2001). Thisgap between underserved minority students and other groups is particularlycritical because it has an affect long-term social mobility.
The attainment ofa baccalaureate degree or any postsecondary degree usually ends in a greaterpay for minority populations (Malveaux, 2003). Thesestatistics stresses the important need of understanding retention problems, asit related to underserved students. Knowledge of understanding studentretention is not limited to campus leaders, educators, and researchers, butalso to society. Several years ago, Stewart (1988) proposed that the urgentconcern in higher education dealt with the participation and retention ofminority students in higher education. This problem still exists today.
Thepurpose of this paper is to identify and describe a problem for an actionresearch proposal to discuss a study of minority college student access andretention issues, review important material that is pertinent to comprehendingretention issues for underrepresented African-American students, and todiscussion suggestions for future research.