While black students are between 10 and 13 percent of the students at two- and four-year public colleges, they’re 22 percent of for-profit colleges. What’s going on?

Here’s what Tressie McMillan Cottom, a Ph.D. student in Emory University’s sociology department, told Colorlines: “We have unequal K through 12 schools that haven’t prepared everyone equally for college — and [black students] are more likely to have attended those schools. And then here we are with all this aspiration in a new, changing economic landscape, and you have traditional schools not responding to those needs. And on top of that, we incentivize for-profit schools at the federal level to serve those very people,” she said.

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It seems that institutions like University of Phoenix are in some ways a perfect fit for African Americans looking to add credentials to their résumés, but they have other qualities — and incentives — that should make us look beyond the convenient diplomas they offer.

[F]or black people in particular who are looking to enter or move up in the workforce, said Tressie McMillan Cottom, a PhD student in Emory University’s sociology department, “having a credential tends to mean more than it means for other people.” Bosses’ implicit biases are powerful (PDF), and even mean that when bosses try to infer an applicant’s social background based on their name, those thought to be black are less likely to get called for interviews than people with white-sounding names. Bosses, it turns out, are more inclined to follow up with Emilys than they are with Lakishas (PDF) read more…