Report: Public Universities Prioritize Out-of-State, Wealthy, White Students, Cue Shock and Awe

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While Dr. Dre’s $70 million in donations daughter was somehow able to get into USC based “entirely” on her own merit, for many black children, the process to attend their college of choice is an obstacle course of anxiety and racial bias. And while our experiences as perpetual victims of prejudice are irrefutable, it’s always interesting when official studies are conducted to confirm what we already know.

To that point, did you know that public universities purposely—and disproportionately—focus their recruiting efforts on rich white kids that look nothing like your non-affluent, non-white ass?

No, really. It’s true!

In a new report dubbed “Recruiting the Out-of-State University” comes the shocking realization that “the enrollment priorities of some public research universities are biased against poor communities and communities of color.”


“A small number of universities exhibit recruiting patterns broadly consistent with the historical mission of social mobility for meritorious state residents,” said the report. “However, most universities concentrated recruiting visits in wealthy, out-of-state communities while also privileging affluent schools in in-state visits.”

Wait, what? No way!

The 69-page report, culled from analyzing the recruiting patterns of admission officials at 15 public research universities visiting local high schools, comes from the fine folks at UCLA—which boasts a minuscule 3 percent black student base—and the University of Arizona, with an equally anemic 4.2 percent.

But what else did they find? Glad you asked.

  • Most public research universities really, really, really like recruiting out-of-state students instead of those found in their home state. Twelve of 15 universities made more out-of-state visits than in-state visits and 7 of 15 universities made more than twice as many out-of-state visits than in-state visits.
  • If you don’t live in a major metropolitan area, good luck. Out-of-state visits are concentrated in affluent communities within major metropolitan areas, ignoring rural communities.
  • If you don’t live in an affluent community, good luck. All universities were much more likely to visit out-of-state public high schools in high-income communities than schools in low-income communities, even after controlling for factors related to recruiting visits such as enrollment size and student achievement.
  • If live in a community of color, good luck. Most universities were significantly less likely to visit out-of-state public high schools with a high percentage of Black, Latinx and Native American students, even after controlling for other factors.
  • If you attend a private school, it’s your lucky day. Most universities visit a disproportionate number of out-of-state private schools.

The report also notes that these recruiting practices “contribute to a student composition where low-income students of color feel increasingly isolated amongst growing cohorts of affluent, predominantly white, out-of-state students.”

You think?

Additionally, U.S. News notes that these findings mirror those uncovered by the Education Trust, in which “only about half of states enroll a representative share of black students at their community and technical colleges, despite the fact that students of color disproportionately attend such colleges.”


“We’re still more comfortable blaming individuals of color for failing to get a higher education, despite knowing that there are gross inequalities in the P-12 and college systems in terms of funding, teacher experience, access to rigorous curricular options, and the like,” Andrew Nichols, co-author of the report, and the Education Trust’s senior director of higher education research said in a statement.

“We’ve been doing things around the margins that pay lip service to equity, but we’re not doing enough to break up the systems that are designed to push certain people away,” he said.


“These recruiting patterns are a function of university enrollment priorities,” read an additional report, which revealed that recruiting patterns are directly linked to state divestment in higher education. “In turn, these enrollment priorities are a function of a broken system of state higher education finance, which incentivizes universities to prioritize rich out-of-state students with lack-luster academic achievement. This is not a meritocracy.”

Menace to supremacy. Founder of Extraordinary Ideas and co-host and producer of The Extraordinary Negroes podcast. Impatiently waiting for ya'll to stop putting sugar in grits.

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I just went through all of this with my son.

Seems like the schools will recruit qualified children of color if they are aware of them. It’s not good enough to have excellent grades & test scores. You student has to shout it from the mountain tops.

STUDY & TAKE THE SAT & ACT. More than once if they are not happy with their scores.

Son made a looong list of schools he was interested in. Ivy, D1, DII, DIII & NAIA.

Went to his HS counselor with the list. Discussed which schools he would be accepted based on his academics & test scores.

He’s an athlete so that whittled down list went to his coach to find out what schools from the list matched his level of play and if they are recruiting his position.

Used email, Twitter, IG and FB to basically market him to the list of colleges that were a good fit based on pre-qualification we did.

Visited colleges. Leveraged relationships to talk to the right people in admissions, financial aid and athletics. You’d be surprised you many people you know that know folks.

If you can come up with a 4 year financial solution for your child (grants, scholarships, etc.) along with grades/test scores, schools can be very receptive.

Thankfully he will be going to the school of his choice but it took a ton of work just to get him on the school’s radar. Would have been easier with the right school in the right neighborhood and a bag of money to throw at the colleges knocking our door down.