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Research Round-up: Parenthood and Graduation Gap; Neighborhood Safety and Obesity; and Parent Education Predicts SAT Scores

Parenthood Affects Black-White College Graduation Gap: A recent study in the journal Research in Higher Education found that 32 percent of Black women reported having had a child within five years of entering a four-year college. For White women, the rate was only 7 percent. Some 23 percent of Black men entering a four-year college reported having had a child within five years of entering higher education. For White men, it was 4 percent.

The study found that graduation rates affected women of both races who had had a baby. The authors say that “due to the diversion of time and money away from pursuit of a degree, having a child is a direct cause of leaving college.” Since Black women are more than four times as likely to give birth soon after they enter college, becoming a parent is a significant factor to the racial gap in college graduation rates.

Neighborhood Safety May Play Role in Obesity: Mothers of young children are more likely to be obese when they perceive their neighborhoods as unsafe, according to a new study in the journal Obesity. 

Researchers from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Mathematica Policy Research and the University of Pennsylvania analyzed data collected from 20 U.S. cities in 15 states. Connection with one’s neighbors did not have a significant relation to the mother’s obesity. The women were more likely to be obese is they were less educated, unmarried, had lower income, were depressed, or were Hispanic or non-Hispanic Black. Women who were more educated, married, non-Hispanic White, older and had higher income were more likely to perceive their neighborhoods as being safer and having more social cohesion.

Parent Education Trumps Race, Income When Predicting SAT Scores: A study at Ball State University reveals that parents’ education levels were better indicators of SAT scores, high school grade point average (GPA) and high school class rank than race or income level.

Black students from the lowest income level averaged 99 points higher on the total SAT if their parents had bachelor’s degrees rather than just high school diplomas. Black children of high school graduates had to come from the highest income bracket before their average exceeded that of the lowest income children of college graduates.

“This doesn’t mean there isn’t an achievement gap based on race,” says the study’s co-author Dr. Greg Merchant, professor of educational psychology. “It just means there are equally significant gaps that merit our attention, and these factors interact in complex and compounding ways.”

— Diverse staff reports

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