Immigrant Blacks Are Overrepresented in Certain Colleges, Studies Say

Abby Johnston, Daily Pennsylvanian (Philadelphia), April 10, 2009

According to a new study, black students who are either first- or second-generation American are overrepresented at selective colleges and universities, compared with those whose families have resided in the United States longer.

This overrepresentation may stem from stereotypes–such as that immigrant blacks are smarter or work harder.

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Conducted by sociology professors Pamela Bennett of Johns Hopkins University and Amy Lutz of Syracuse University, the study was similar in content to one published in 2007, co-authored by Penn Sociology professor Camille Charles and Douglas Massey, Margarita Mooney and Kimberly Torres of Princeton University.

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Bennett and Lutz’s research found that immigrant blacks make up the largest demographic proportionally of students who enrolled in college upon high school graduation. 75.1 percent of immigrant black high-school graduates attend college, compared to 72.5 percent of whites and 60.2 percent of native blacks.

While enrollment of immigrant rather than native black students is similar for two-year and nonselective, not historically black four-year colleges, the biggest gap for the two groups is found in selective colleges, which enroll a proportional majority of immigrant black students.

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Charles added that, to increase diversity at Penn and make the black student population representative of the larger black population of that age group, admissions officers must be more conscious of variances within the black community.

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[Editor’s Note: “How African American Is the Net Black Advantage? Differences in College Attendance Among Immigrant Blacks, Native Blacks, and Whites,” by Pamela R. Bennett and Amy Lutz, can be downloaded as a PDF file here. There is a charge.]

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