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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Increasing African American, Latino, and Native American Representation among High Achieving Undergraduates at Selective Colleges and Universities


African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans are severely underrepresented among high academic achieving undergraduates at selective colleges and universities by virtually all traditional measures of achievement, including grade point average, class rank, and academic honors. Selective institutions currently have few programs and strategies designed to increase the number of high achieving undergraduates from underrepresented groups. This situation is partly a function of the fact that more attention has been given over the years to increasing the retention and graduation rates of students from underrepresented minorities than to helping more students graduate with a high GPA; consequently, few programs have been designed with a high achievement focus. It also is partly a function of the fact that little money has been available to conduct rigorous evaluations of programs designed to improve academic outcomes of underrepresented undergraduates at selective institutions. There are some promising approaches to addressing the high achievement issue and making significant progress on this issue, but the financial resources to operate, test and evaluate these programs are not readily available. There also are no mechanisms in place for training the professionals needed to operate the programs. If progress is to be made, these underlying obstacles to working on the high achievement issue will have to be addressed effectively by those in a position to make a difference on these matters, and by those with a large stake in expanding the number of African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans who excel academically at selective institutions.

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