There’s diminished interest in college enrollment among Black, Latino and male 2023 graduating high school students, according to a report published Monday (May 22) by YouthTruth, an education nonprofit organization.
The national survey of more than 25,000 high school seniors also uncovered a mismatch between the students’ aspirations and expectations of going to college, suggesting that many of them see obstacles to navigating their way to a higher education.
“As this report shows, for all too many of America’s youth, the road to college remains obscured, blocked, or just plain closed,” the researchers write. “And, since 2019, successfully navigating the road to college has become even more challenging for many, including the groups spotlighted in this report.”
The survey found that 74 percent of Black students wanted to attend college but only 66 percent of them expected to enroll. For Latinos, 73 percent said they wanted to go to college while 64 percent of them said they expected to attend college.
This gap between aspiring to obtain a higher education and the expectation of achieving that goal speaks to the students’ belief about what is attainable, the researchers said.
At the same time, the researchers noted a decline among Black and Latino students who wanted to go to college after high school compared to 2019: 5 percent for Black students and 6 percent for Latinos.
“There’s this durable gap between aspiration and expectations that has not recovered through the pandemic. For kids who have less options, less capital ... they’re the ones who are finding less opportunity, Jennifer De Forest, the report’s lead author, told NBC News.
White students had similar results as their Black counterparts. Of those surveyed, 74 percent wanted to go to college but 67 percent had that expectation, with a 7 percent gap. Asian students topped the list with 90 percent of them wanting to enroll in college and 85 percent having that expectation.
When it comes to gender, 83 percent of female students aspired to enroll in college, compared to 68 percent of male students. De Forest said this study shows that young men don’t see an opportunity to pursue their interests in a post-secondary education.
The survey also found that the percentage of high school graduates aspiring to enroll in a four-year college was unchanged since 2019 at 46 percent. But students who wanted to attend community college immediately after high school declined 5 percent, from 25 percent in 2019 to 20 percent in 2023, raising an alarm for and the future of community colleges.
For Black students, the expectation of attending community college declined 8 percent, from 25 percent in 2019 to 17 percent in 2023. It decreased 7 percent for Latinos, 34 percent in 2019 to 27 percent in 2023. It fell 5 percent for male students during that period, from 23 percent to 18 percent.
The researchers issued a call to action for admissions officers, academic guidance counselors and education foundations to “tune into the perceptions of students themselves and enlist young people as partners in constructing more clearly marked paths that are open to all who aspire to college.”