With cultural icons like Malia Obama and actress Yara Shahidi both announcing their attendance at Harvard University, more minority students are deciding to further their education.
Harvard University recently made headlines as a majority of its incoming freshmen class is made up of minority students. The Boston Globe reports that 50.8 percent of students admitted to Harvard are minorities from backgrounds such as African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian, Native Americans, and Native Hawaiians. This number is an increase from last years 47.3 percent.
This uptick shows minorities are making important decisions to further their education through college. Further studies support this. In 2012, the Pew Research Center reported that for the first time, Hispanic college enrollment rate trumped the enrollment rate of whites, 49 to 47 percent.
While these numbers show progress for minority students in higher education, students of color across Boston face unique experiences and challenges as they prepare for college.
15-year-old Jacky Garces, a student at Excel Academy Charter High School, whose family is originally from Colombia, is currently enrolled in an advanced placement history class. She is excited for AP classes, but is nervous it will be time consuming. Garces is positive she will maintain good grades if she stays focused on her studies. She feels supported by her parents, but also feels pressured because her parents did not attend college, therefore, she must attend.
Cyril Robinson, 15, also from Excel Academy, faces other difficulties. Robinson describes himself as a good student, but has different techniques for learning. He also thinks he struggles in school with time management and forming teacher relationships.
As college admission for minority students grows, the experiences of students once they are in college should be given greater thought. Christopher Grant, Associate Director of Student Success in Enrollment Management at Emerson College and co-founder of EmersonWRITES, says through his line of work he definitely sees more minorities enrolling and attending college. However, he believes more can be done for minority students.
“First, on the financial aid side, there definitely could be a lot more help for first generation students. Then, also on the academic side, I think there could be more classes geared towards this generation, especially more diverse classes.”
As more minority students populate college campuses, it is important to provide support to the changing dynamics. “The best way to combat all the racial tension is to be able to inform people and have students see the world through the classroom,” said Grant.