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Elsewhere – Study: ‘Other’ mostly checked by whites

Daily Pennsylvanian (U. Penn)

(U-WIRE) PHILADELPHIA-A new report shows that most college hopefuls who say they are of “unknown” or “other” race on their applications are actually white, and suggests that this may impact minority enrollment. The study, released by the California-based James Irvine Foundation, found that the number of students who check “unknown” or “other” has grown from 3.2 percent to 5.9 percent in the last decade, and that the majority of those checking the boxes are actually white.

Though Penn officials say that the “other” box does not affect their admissions system, the report concludes that universities across the country are admitting fewer minority students than they anticipate because admissions officers assume applicants who check “other” are part of minority groups.

“The racial or ethnic composition of an institution can be distorted when there is a large unknown population,” reads the December study, entitled “‘Unknown’ Students on College Campuses: An Exploratory Analysis.” It includes data from 28 colleges and universities nationwide.

But Admissions Dean Lee Stetson says that Penn applicants rarely check “other” for their race due the large number of options offered on the application and that the University has a good idea of the makeup of its student body.

Although Stetson could not estimate the number of applicants who choose “other,” he said most do check at least one race, although they can check as many as are applicable.

Approximately 35 percent of the Class of 2009 identified themselves as minority students.

January 23, 2006

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