Meeting the Needs of Underserved Students


The 21st century college student population is the most diverse in our nation’s history, characterized by the intersection of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, family composition, age, and economic status among others. The benefits of heterogeneous environments are many. Research shows that diversity can increase self-awareness, promote creative thinking, enhance social and cognitive development, and prepare students to navigate a diverse workforce.

As a pluralistic society, we are right to be inclusive of populations historically omitted from dominant discourse and media on diversity and equity. This blog series on underserved student populations brings together ACE staff and guest authors—administrators, scholars, practitioners and analysts—to look at deep-rooted issues that perpetuate division and inequity.

Higher Education’s Challenge: Disability Inclusion on Campus
Disability is part of the human condition. To ensure inclusion in higher education, campus leaders must consider how to fully embrace all students, faculty, and staff with and without disabilities. When developing a culture of inclusion, colleges and universities have specific responsibilities to students with disabilities to ensure they can learn and achieve their goals.

Indigenous Perspectives on Native Student Challenges in Higher Education
Success for Native American students requires that higher education be responsive to the unique values, needs, and perspective each student brings to campus. Robin Zape-tah-hol-ah Minthorn gives a primer on where colleges and universities can begin.

Resources Designed for International Students Could Also Help First-Generation Students
Campus support services for international students and first-generation students are usually separated, based on the assumption that these two groups of students have different needs. But are there benefits to joint programs?

Enhancing the Quality of the International Student Experience
What can colleges and universities do to counteract the message that the United States is no longer a welcoming environment for international students and scholars? Some institutions are finding success in thinking more holistically about the entire international student experience, from initial contact through alumni status.

Understanding Latinx College Student Diversity and Why It Matters
As Latinx postsecondary enrollments increase, understanding this population of students could cultivate more inclusive campus climates that enhance Latinx student success. Although often treated as a monolithic group in comparison to other racial groups, the Latinx population is remarkably diverse.

Pan-Asian Student Classifications in Higher Education: What the Data Do and Don’t Tell Us
In supporting an inclusive campus environment at colleges and universities, Asian Americans are an often-overlooked part of the equation. But as demographics shift, institutional policies and practices need to address the complexity of populations that fall under pan-ethnic categorizations such as Asian American.

Foster Care Youth and Postsecondary Education: The Long Road Ahead
Between 20,000 and 25,000 young adults age out of foster care each year. While they face a wide range of challenges, a college education is as important to them as it is to other young adults. Amy Dworsky of the University of Chicago looks at the challenges they face.

Policy Levers Leading the Way to Reentry for Incarcerated Students
We know that postsecondary education changes lives and provides a stepping-stone to prosperity. Though we recognize education’s transformative power, those who stand to benefit the most are often cut off from access—especially individuals in the criminal justice system.

Geography and College Attainment: A Place-Based Approach
Place is an influential determinant of college opportunity and success. But geography should not be destiny. States and higher education institutions should adopt policies and practices that recognize place-based disadvantage, write Roman Ruiz and Laura W. Perna of the University of Pennsylvania.

Building Family-Friendly Campuses: Strategies to Promote College Success Among Student Parents
For the 4.8 million college students raising children, navigating higher education can be uniquely challenging, writes Melanie Kruvelis, the 2016 Mariam K. Chamberlain Fellow in Women and Public Policy at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

Food Is a Basic Need: Dealing With Hunger on College Campuses
Wick Sloane writes that more data is needed on the issue of campus hunger before a comprehensive solution can be advanced—and on that score, an upcoming study from Government Accountability Office is a welcome development.

LGBTQ Students on Campus: Issues and Opportunities for Higher Education Leaders
Aligning policy, practice, programming and pedagogy to support LGBTQ students remains a challenge and an opportunity for higher education leaders, according to Michigan State University’s Kristen Renn.