Data Dive: The Black Experience in 2021 School and College Search

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For Black History Month, Niche combed through responses to recent surveys to highlight where Black students and parents are experiencing the school and college search differently than their peers. In most areas, considerations and concerns were closely mirrored. Here are some places where they differed in preschool through college searches.

Preschool parents considered most of the same things important when researching their options. However, the diversity of the preschool was much more important. Another theme we will see throughout the results is that of proximity. The distance of a school from home or work was much more important to Black parents than their peers.

The largest difference for parents looking at K-8 schools was the importance of the proximity of a school from their home or work. Rankings again were more important, as was the diversity of the school. Another significant difference was in the importance of the arts, which were almost twenty percentage points less important.

Considerations were much closer for high school parents overall than other school types. The biggest differences were, again, the distance from home or work and the diversity of the school. International Baccalaureate programs were more important to Black parents but less so than they were to other nonwhite parents. The largest negative difference was in the type of school that it was, meaning that other factors mattered much more than whether it was a public versus private institution or religious versus nonreligious.

Student considerations were the most tightly clustered in college search, the biggest difference was in the importance that athletics played in the college search followed closely by reviews and the net price calculator. Intercultural services also predictably were more important to the students they are designed to serve.

Black students also were more willing to travel for their college education as well. They were the most willing to go two or more hours from home. This is an interesting split from their other nonwhite peers. This also provides more recruiting opportunities for colleges, especially those in less diverse areas that are concerned about access and equity.

While the majority of parents reported involvement in the college search, a good opportunity for making a difference is to engage nonwhite parents early and make sure that they understand the process and how to support their children. Some responses pointed to feeling unprepared to support their child, but not a lack of desire to help.

Will Patch

In addition to the Enrollment Insights blog, webinars, and podcast; Will is a frequent conference speaker and podcast guest. He has presented at NACAC, AACRAO-SEM, Indiana ACAC, CASE V, EduWeb, and EMA. Will's work has been featured in Forbes, Inside Higher Ed, CNBC, CNN, the LA Times, and The New York Times among other outlets.