Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Trump's election spurs colleges and universities to seek more rural, white and poor students

Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos (Glamour photo)
"A sizable share of college admission directors say they have intensified efforts to recruit in rural areas and find more white students from low-income families following Donald Trump’s unexpected victory in the 2016 presidential election," Nick Anderson reports for The Washington Post, citing a poll-based story in Inside Higher Ed.

"The 2016 election and President Trump’s statements and actions since taking office posed challenges for higher education in multiple ways," Anderson writes. "His campaign capitalized on heavy support from rural America and from white voters without college degrees — sectors of the population many colleges historically have struggled to reach."

Inside Higher Ed and The Gallup Organization surveyed college and university admissions directors and found that 38 percent of the respondents said they had "stepped up recruitment in rural areas since the election," Anderson notes. "Thirty percent reported the same about recruiting students from poor white families. . . . Eight percent said their schools are seeking more politically conservative students."

A plurality of admissions directors in the survey supported "the view that the election shows colleges, especially elite colleges, should do more to recruit in rural areas," Anderson reports. "Thirty-six percent agreed with that idea, while 22 percent disagreed. A large majority — 76 percent — agree that Trump’s statements and policies have made it harder to recruit international students." The survey was taken July 20 to Aug. 16. "Of more than 3,500 invited to participate, 453 completed the surveys," Anderson reports. "Two hundred were from public colleges and universities, 245 from private, nonprofit schools, and eight from the for-profit sector."

Inside Higher Ed Editor Scott Jaschik told Anderson that Trump’s win caused “soul-searching” among college officials political disconnection between campuses and their neighbors. “There are college towns all over America, where most people who work at or are enrolled in the college voted one way, and they woke up and realized that people in the surrounding towns and counties voted another way,” Jaschik said, adding that some are now reaching out to those rural areas for students. “It is not good if you’re a public or private institution and if only suburbanites think of you as a great place to go to college,” he said.

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