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Minority Students and Mental Health

Inside Higher Ed reports this morning that “African-American students feel less mentally prepared for college than white students do but are also less likely to discuss those concerns or seek help for mental health issues, a new study has found.”

According to a press release describing the study and its results, the Harris Poll conducted an online survey of 1502 students currently attending two-year or four-year colleges for several organizations concerned with “improving support for the mental health and emotional well-being of America’s college students of color.” Among its findings was that “Caucasian students are more likely than African American and Hispanic students to say they feel more academically prepared than their peers during their first term of college (50% vs. 36% and 39%)” and that “African American and Hispanic students are more likely than Caucasian students to say that it seems like everyone has college figured out but them (52% and 49% vs. 41%).”

Is feeling less “academically prepared” for college than one’s peers necessarily a mental health issue if in fact one is less academically prepared? It is not clear how many of the surveyed students attended selective institutions, but it is clear that “diversity”-justified preference based on race and ethnicity admits blacks and Hispanics who are less academically qualified than their white and Asian peers. And it is also clear from the “mismatch” research of Richard Sander and others that those students in fact perform less well. In fact, even students at less selective institutions who have not received preferential treatment may reasonably believe that they have.

Perhaps those most in need of mental health assistance are all those higher education officials and their supporters who believe that it is possible to admit less qualified students without making them feel less qualified.

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