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Discussion with top scholars about college enrollment gaps


By Ember Smith

On January 23, the Brookings Center on Children and Families hosted an event where leading education experts discussed the factors that contribute to college enrollment disparities and ways to improve access to higher education. 

First, Sarah Reber, senior fellow in the Economic Studies program at Brookings, presented findings from her new report with Ember Smith. Although college enrollment rates vary significantly by socio-economic status (SES), gender, and race or ethnicity, they find that disparities are much smaller among students with similar academic preparation. Reber suggests that policymakers interested in addressing college enrollment gaps should address disparities in academic preparation, which are influenced by opportunities both in and out of school.  

Following Reber’s presentation, Katharine Meyer, a fellow in the Brookings Brown Center on Education Policy, moderated a conversation with three education researchers. Panelists addressed obstacles to educational opportunity, approaches to improving K-12 education, changes in college admissions policy, and what policymakers and researchers should focus on going forward.  

Preparing for college: K-12 obstacles and interventions 


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