8312 https://rossier.usc.edu/news-insights/news/usc-rossier-aims-diversify-pipeline-future-educators While colleges and universities have improved the diversity of the undergraduate student body–with about 45% of students identifying as people of color, representing a gain of 30% over two decades–much work remains to be done in diversifying graduate degree programs that train future professors and leaders. Approximately one-third of undergraduates go on to pursue graduate studies, while the pipeline narrows for students of color who opt to take the next leap in their studies post-bachelor’s degree.
According to recent data from the Council of Graduate Schools, about 26% of all first-time graduate-school enrollees who were U.S. citizens or permanent residents were members of underrepresented minority groups in the fall of 2020. Financial pressure, spending excessive amounts of time in remedial education, and feeling isolated or unsupported are just some of the reasons why undergraduate students of color say they struggle and do not proceed in their studies.
Fortunately, USC Rossier faculty are applying research to practice, with the goal of better preparing universities to educate and train diverse students who intend to pursue graduate studies.
Some of the ways USC Rossier faculty are tackling the diversity problem in the professoriate pipeline include preparing undergraduates to be competitive applicants for graduate school, advocating for more equitable admissions practices, and providing resources for faculty and staff who work in graduate programs to foster a more supportive and welcoming environment for diverse students.
STEP 1: DIVERSIFYING THE PIPELINE
One of the first steps toward increasing access to graduate school is to better prepare upper-division undergraduate students for graduate study. One interdisciplinary training program that prepares underrepresented students, specifically Black and Latinx students, is the Research Institute for Scholars of Equity training program (RISE). Housed at a historically Black college, North Carolina Central University (NCCU), RISE counts USC Rossier Associate Professor Royel Johnson among its principal investigators and was the only HBCU to receive a grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences.
Inequities for Black and Latinx students often begin with lower-quality pre-kindergarten, creating an equity gap that becomes challenging to close. RISE fellows–juniors and seniors who come from the communities impacted by these inequities–have an interest in social equity and conducting research to improve the learning experiences and academic attainment of Black and Latinx students from pre-K through the university level. The RISE training program gives these undergraduate fellows an
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