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Requirement of SAT and ACT scores can benefit wealthy students in the application process. Photo credit: Pexels.

Enrollment of Black, Hispanic and other underrepresented groups has increased in some highly-selective private colleges

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New College Board research shows that at 51 public and private colleges the enrollment number of students from underrepresented groups stayed basically the same between Fall 2018 and Fall 2021.   

However, according to Higher Ed Dive,  in some highly-selective private colleges — with admission rates below 25% — the enrollment of Black, Hispanic/Latinx, Native American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander students increased between Fall 2020 and Fall 2021. While Black students increased 19%, Hispanic/Latino students showed a 9% rise. 

Statistics also indicated that the colleges enrolled about 20% more students of two or more races, and the share of low-income and first-generation students rose by about 17% and 14%, respectively, in a year. In the opposite direction, white students' attendance dropped slightly, by about 2%. 

This can be attributed to some changes that happened during the pandemic and have persisted since, such as no longer considering SAT and ACT scores.  

The coronavirus had an impact in the decrease of the general enrollment in education institutions, but it also promoted policy changes that are here to stay. The study shows that around 1,700 colleges — including those that have never asked for the scores — won’t require SAT and ACT for the following enrollment cycle.

Some critics say the required submission of SAT and ACT scores favors wealthy students who have the resources to pay for tutors, distancing low-income students and other underrepresented groups from these selective institutions. Past research suggests that the measure can increase diversity on private college campuses across the country. 

Although College Board is being cautious about making statements and connections relating to the change in the requirement of assessment tests and the new data, the findings are one of the first examinations in years since the SAT and ACT scores started becoming optional — a pattern that was intensified by the pandemic. 

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