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Thursday, February 27, 1997 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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More Black Women Going To College; Black Enrollment Overall Lags Whites

Knight-Ridder Newspapers

WASHINGTON - There has been extraordinary recent growth in the educational achievements of African-American women, but blacks still trail whites in higher education, a new report reveals.

The study, produced by the College Fund/UNCF (formerly the United Negro College Fund) and paid for in part by the Pew Charitable Trusts, is the most comprehensive assessment of the African-American post-secondary educational experience yet produced.

Enrollment of African-American women is 24 percent higher than African-American men. And twice as many of the women earn bachelor's and master's degrees each year, the report shows.

The number of African-American women obtaining professional degrees in law and medicine increased 219 percent over the past decade, and the bachelor's degrees awarded to black women in the past 20 years have increased 55 percent.

The black women achieved these gains despite having lower SAT scores, more often taking remedial course work and more often being first-generation college students than their African-American male peers.

Despite such obstacles, the percentage of college students who were African Americans rose from 8.8 percent in 1984 to roughly 10 percent in 1994.

"The economic benefits of going to college are very strong, and most young people know that if they go to college their future income will increase," said Howard University Provost Antoine Garibaldi. "That message has gotten out there."

But the proportion of blacks in college still falls short of their 14.4 percent share of the traditional college-age population.

And there are other problems:

-- Thirty percent of all African-American college freshmen receive remedial training, compared with 14 percent of whites.

-- Although African Americans comprise 10 percent of all college undergraduates, they receive only 6 percent of all bachelor's degrees.

-- Blacks were less represented than whites at all degree levels in technical fields such as engineering, physical sciences and life sciences.

-- Blacks were twice as likely as whites to be unemployed one year after graduation.

-- Only 5 percent of all college faculty are African Americans.

Copyright (c) 1997 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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