As an institution that strives for excellence and equity, the University of California, Berkeley aims to provide opportunity, hope, and a space for all students to succeed. Given this objective, the university has historically fallen short in its student racial/ethnic representation when compared to nearby counties, including West Contra Costa. To determine possible barriers that prevent underrepresented minority (URM) high school students from matriculating to UC Berkeley, we have surveyed De Anza High School in West Contra Costa Unified School District and examined our findings as a case study.
Reviewing high school support from college advisors, perceptions of UC Berkeley campus climate, student college readiness, and yield to UC Berkeley, we found that URM De Anza High School students are more likely to be first-generation college students, to have poorer perceptions of campus climate, to feel less prepared for college, and to have fewer conversations about and applications to UC Berkeley than Non-URM students. Furthermore, this first-generation college status seems to play a critical role as students pursue higher education. Because the majority of URM students have not met with an academic advisor given their access to one, a gap has been created regarding the groups who receive encouragement from college advisors and, perhaps, guide those groups to apply to and attend UC Berkeley upon graduating high school.
To help mitigate this existing gap, UC Berkeley should improve campus climate and URM student matriculation by increasing contact through interactions between campus representatives and local high school students, strengthening existing relationships between university and county partners, and promoting and expanding existing preparatory programs to help prepare and demystify the rigor of UC Berkeley education.
About IRLE’s Student Research Brief Series
IRLE’s mission is to support rigorous scholarship on labor and employment at UC Berkeley by conducting and disseminating policy-relevant and socially-engaged research. As part of our goal to advance the next generation of scholars, our Student Research Brief series highlights student-led academic research conducted by UC Berkeley graduate and undergraduate students.
To view this brief and others in the series, visit irle.berkeley.edu/publications/student-publications/.
Series editor: Lori Ann Ospina, Associate Director of IRLE