Higher Education Administrators and Minority Students

Jul 10, 2021 by

Understanding inequality in Higher Education is the beginning to addressing the problem. Studies have shown that apart from Asian Americans that in general, minority students do not fair as well as their white counterparts. For example, African American and Hispanic students are less likely to enroll in Higher Education. They are less likely to graduate. This is helping to reinforce inequality in our society (Espinosa et al, 2019). Students from minority backgrounds often have inferior educational outcomes for a variety of reasons. These barriers include overwhelmingly white faculties, lack of supports, cultural factors and financial issues. Higher Education leaders can make a difference. They can introduce measures that would allow students from a minority background to excel and to have a great educational experience.

Facing the challenges

The first step in helping minority students to succeed is to admit a problem. Higher Education administrators should show leadership. They should determine if their institution supports diversity and is inclusive. For example, the NERCHE Self-Assessment Rubric can help to provide an understanding of how diverse and inclusive a Higher Education Institution is. Higher Education Administrators and leaders should advocate for traditionally disadvantaged students.

Strategies to help Minority Students to excel in Higher Education.

Several strategies are recommended to help minority students in Higher Education. They have been successfully implemented in several colleges and have been proven to be successful in some universities around the country.

  • Develop specific supports for minority students. These programs can help to address the challenges that they face. For example, Penn State has introduced the Millennium Scholar Program that supports African American and Latino students to enroll in STEM courses and gives them financial support.
  • Higher Education administrators should seek to change the culture of their organization. There should be a transition away from blaming the students’ failure on their students. A great emphasis can be placed on ‘serving’ the students and supporting their needs. Universities and colleges can seek to be more student-centric and seek to understand why students are facing challenges (Tajalli & Ortiz, 2018).
  • Higher Education administrators can establish mentorship programs for minority students. This helps them to overcome barriers. Mentors from the same ethnic group and background gives students practical advice and emotional support that helps them to adapt to life in college but also to excel (Moschetti, et al, 2018).
  • Students benefit greatly from the support of other students. Many international students are successful because they tend to help each other. Latino and African American students should be encouraged to form groups and networks. These provide supports to struggling students, especially in specific areas such as STEM subjects, which many students often find problematic.
  • Promoting equality in Higher Education should be prioritized. Too often responsibility for inclusion and the promotion of diversity is left to a small group. Higher Education administrators are encouraged to coordinate the various stakeholders so that they are all committed to inclusion and equality (Stout et al, 2018).
  • Workshops can be held on diversity training for faculty members (Stout et al, 2018). This helps educators to better understand the challenges faced by minority students. Too often educators have biases about students from a non-white background concerning their abilities in math and science. This can be very de-motivating for minority students and can negatively impact their academic achievements (Simmons, 2018). If the faculty has higher expectations of students’, they are more likely to be engaged with their studies and attain higher grades.
  • Educators can acquire a better understanding of minority students whose expectations are often not understood. This can help them to succeed by closing what Yuan has called the ‘teaching gap’ (2017). This is the gap between the educators’ beliefs about the needs of the students and what their actual goals are.
  • Administrators can develop an early warning system that alerts educators to students who are underachieving or are having difficulties. A team of counsellors and advisors can be developed who can help students. They can be advocates for minority students and prevent them from dropping out of their courses. This approach has proven to be very successful at Georgia State.
  • Data analytics can possibly be utilized so that students whose grades are not satisfactory can be identified. Early intervention by counsellors benefits minority students enormously (Tajalli and Ortiz, 2018).
  • Administrators should seek to make education more affordable for minority students, who typically come from poorer backgrounds. Scholarships and flexible learning opportunities can reduce the financial burden on students and this could lead to an increase in graduation rates.

Higher Education administrators play a critical role in their long-term commitment to strategies that support all students and that they win support of key stakeholders.

Comment: Name two specific ways that you can advocate for minority students.

Keywords: Minority students, inclusion, diversity in higher education, advocates for minority students


Espinosa, L. L., Turk, J. M., Taylor, M., & Chessman, H. M. (2019). Race and ethnicity in higher education: A status report. Retrieved from: http://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/handle/10919/89187

Moschetti, R. V., Plunkett, S. W., Efrat, R., & Yomtov, D. (2018). Peer mentoring as social capital for Latina/o college students at a Hispanic-serving institution. Journal of Hispanic Higher Education, 17(4), 375-392. Retrieved from: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1538192717702949

Simmons, K. N. (2018). Effect of undergraduate research programs on retention of Hispanic students. Retrieved from: http://digitalrepository.unm.edu/oils_etds/50/

Stout, R., Archie, C., Cross, D., & Carman, C. A. (2018). The relationship between faculty diversity and graduation rates in higher education. Intercultural Education, 29(3), 399-417. Retrieved from: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14675986.2018.1437997.

Tajalli, H., & Ortiz, M. (2018). An examination of Hispanic college enrollment and graduation: Has the Texas Closing the Gaps plan been successful?. Journal of Latinos and Education, 17(4), 330-343. Retrieved from: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15348431.2017.1348301

Yuan, H. (2017). Respond to Diversity: Graduate Minority Students’ Perceptions on Their Learning Experiences in an American University. IAFOR Journal of Education, 5(1), 33-45. Retrieved from: http://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1141704

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