Overlapping Disadvantages and the Racial/Ethnic Graduation Gap among Students Attending Selective Institutions

Sigal Alon, Tel Aviv University

In this paper, I use a configurational approach to examine the extent to which the overlap between several education-enhancing resources (family income, parental education, and student's academic preparation) can account for racial and ethnic gaps in graduation likelihood among students attending academically selective colleges and universities in the United States. The results, based on the College & Beyond database, demonstrate that students with overlapping disadvantages are less likely to graduate compared to their privileged classmates. This burden of overlapping disadvantages was above and beyond the unique hardship associated with each background characteristic. Under-represented minority students are more likely to suffer from overlapping disadvantages than whites and Asians. To a large extent, the gross racial and ethnic gap in graduation dissolves among students with similar configurations of dis/advantages. I conclude that the racial/ethnic gap in graduation that exists within selective colleges and universities is related to the socioeconomic composition of their student body.

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Presented in Session 169: Determinants of College Enrollment and Attainment