Report Documents Racial Gaps in California Higher Education

2015-State-of-Higher-Education-in-California_Black-Report-coverThe Campaign for College Opportunity has issued a new report on the educational status of African Americans in the state of California. The report finds that African Americans are more likely to graduate from high school and college than a decade ago. But Blacks are less likely to graduate from high school than students of other racial/ethnic groups and to have completed the college preparatory curriculum needed for admission to the University of California and California State University systems compared to other major racial/ethnic groups. Blacks are also less likely than other racial/ethnic groups in California to graduate from college.

Other key findings in the report include:

  • Only 23 percent of working-age Blacks in California have bachelor’s degrees, compared to 42 percent of their White counterparts.
  • One-third of Black adults aged 25-64 attended college but earned no degree.
  • Black undergraduates are underrepresented at four-year public and private, nonprofit universities and overrepresented at California community colleges and for-profit colleges.
  • Only 37 percent of Black students who started at the California State University system as freshmen will earn a degree within six years.
  • At least two thirds of Black applicants were denied admission to six of the University of California’s nine undergraduate campuses.

“To secure California’s economic future, action is needed now to significantly improve our education system for all Californians and specifically increase college enrollment and graduation among Black students,” said Michele Siqueiros, president of The Campaign for College Opportunity. “Improving Black Californians academic success will not only strengthen the opportunity and future of Black Californians, but that of our state.”

The report, The State of Higher Education in California: Black Report, may be accessed here.

Related Articles


  1. I am a white male that helped mentor and guide a wonderful African American young man from California thru the extremely challenging college application process. This student has stellar grades (4.5), incredible rigor – especially in the math and science courses, scored within the top -150 black men in the country on the ACT, and scored a perfect 800 on the SAT level 2 math. His common app and supplemental essays were some of the best I have ever read in my life and his letters of recommendations from his teachers and employer were nothing short of spectacular. He had awesome extracurricular activities and his college applications represented one of the most competitive students I have ever seen.

    He was accepted into 7 of 8 Ivy’s, Stanford, many other elite universities – including many honors programs, and he was only wait listed at Yale. The shocker for me was that he was flat out Rejected from UCLA and UC Berkeley and this is something that is hard for both of us to understand as his grades, rigor, and standardized test scores were way above the averages for those schools and clearly leaps and bounds over other African American students.

    I believe that California Prop 209 is 100% responsible for his rejection to the two flagship California public universities and their “color-blind” policy has resulted in a system that overlooks extremely well qualified African American students in favor of those much less qualified. Unfortunately, this student attended an upper middle class, predominantly white, high school in California and his class rank was in the top 40 out of 525 students and it seems to me that UCLA and UC Berkeley only took the top 5 or so kids from his school in terms of class rank. In my opinion, with 80,000+ applications, they did NOT even read the essay or look at the complete picture – sometimes referred to as holistic evaluation.

    Although this student decided to enroll at Stanford (he turned down 7 Ivy’s) it was his dream to attend UCLA. It is frustrating for him to see athletes (that the UC system seems to take credit for in terms of diversity numbers, but are held to a MUCH lower standard) given full scholarships and students with far less credentials that attended schools with high black percentages get accepted.

    As a side note, I was somewhat surprised at how many “Nigerian students” were at Stanford Admit weekend and don’t know if they are classified as black or international. Yes, I was one of the two white dudes attending that orientation meeting.

    I am confident that this student will continue having great academic success in the future, but I must ask – why is it that he was denied admission into UCLA and UC Berkeley, yet was accepted into most of the top 10 universities in the World and why did so many lower performing African American students get into UCLA and UC Berkeley when he could not?

    What is the point of admitting African American athletes when most will probably not graduate and what point is there in admitting so many underqualified students that won’t be able to compete against all the other students at these institutions (for the hardest and most competitive majors) when they flatly rejected a super qualified black male that could easily compete with the best of their students.

    The entire UC system wants to profit from black athletes and also likes to include lots of black faces in their brochures and websites, yet clearly the system is broken when they fail to admit a student like the one I describe above. Now, I do realize that if he attended an all black high school, he probably would have been admitted into UCLA and Berkeley, but why can’t the UC system modify their criteria to include outstanding black students from non-Black high schools that can compete with everyone else?

    The UC system has great diversity, on paper, but what they lack is qualified black American students (i.e. descendants of slavery) and this is a 100% fixable problem, yet they keep claiming that Prop 209 prevents them from doing anything about it, yet that is overlooked when it comes to athletes and the so-called outreach programs.

    I personally think it is time for African American professional athletes, Hollywood actors, musicians, and politicians to demand action and stop denying so many qualified black students an opportunity to obtain a UC degree. It is also time for the UC system to hold all student athletes to the same academic standards as they do for the rest of the population and stop creating manufactured photo-ops where they bring in some black faces for their brochures and web site pictures, but that will probably never happen. Imagine the media attention if all the black basketball players at UCLA decided to leave the school at the same time.

    Another side note – Harvard really reached out to this young man and pretty much rolled out the red carpet for him and I, along with his family, was very impressed at their recruitment and dedication to increasing the black diversity at Harvard. However his family was a little freaked out over the “I, too am Harvard” campaign they saw online and felt that Stanford was a more inclusive university than Harvard or any other other elite school. It is still hard for me to accept that anyone would turn down a better offer from Harvard, but in the end, Stanford was truly the better place for this young black man and his family felt 100% comfortable and welcome there.

  2. The number of Black students enrolled at the California schools will be deflated because of the Dept of Ed.”s obsession with separating students who listed as Black alone and in combination with another race from Black students who only list themselves as Black or who identify themselves as Black and Hispanic.

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Wiley University Launches New Honors College for Fall 2024 Semester

The Heman Sweatt Honors College will provide students with access to a dedicated living community, specialized classes and research opportunities, faculty mentors, and financial aid for tuition, internships, and study abroad experiences.

Two Black Historians in Higher Education Receive Prestigious Dan David Prize

Keisha Blain of Brown University and Cécile Fromont of Harvard University have received 2024 Dan David Prizes for their outstanding achievements as academic historians.

City of Hope Partners with Charles R. Drew University of Medicine to Advance Diversity in Cancer Research

“By working together, City of Hope and the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science aim to address health disparities and promote diversity in specialized medical fields, ultimately improving health care outcomes for the communities we serve," said David Carlisle, president of CDU.

Nine Black Leaders Selected for Administrative Positions in Higher Education

Here is this week’s roundup of African Americans who have been appointed to new administrative positions at colleges and universities throughout the United States. If you have news for our appointments section, please email the information to

Featured Jobs