Crossing the Bridge: Race, Meritocracy, and Timing of College Completion

Ervin (Maliq) Matthew, University of Cincinnati

This article examines the relationship between academic merit and racial variance in time between college enrollment and completion of bachelor's degree requirements. I find that white students are more likely to complete college in an expedient manner than are blacks and Hispanics (but less so than Asians) when enrolled in similar schools, and that this variance is only partly explained by academic merit, as proxied by high school grades and standardized exam scores. Findings indicate that these gaps are further reduced after controlling for high school characteristics and timeliness of postsecondary enrollment, but they do not disappear entirely. Overall, the results of this study suggest that race – net of prior academic success or ascribed characteristics – remains a meaningful predictor of time to college completion.

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Presented in Poster Session 5: Economy, Labor Force, Education and Inequality