Supporting Students of Color on the Pathway to Graduate Education

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Council of Graduate Schools


One of the most important influences to a student’s pursuit of graduate education—if not the most important—is having a faculty mentor during a student’s undergraduate education. This is especially relevant for students of color who remain underrepresented in graduate education (Kim, 2011; U.S. Department of Education, 2014). While there are a number of potential reasons for the underrepresentation of students of color in graduate education, one explanation that has gained traction, and is problematized in this report, situates the problem as one of academic mismatch. This report begins with a review of mentoring – what constitutes mentoring, motivations for mentoring, which students get mentored, and the importance of mentoring to graduate education. A discussion of the scarcity of mentoring for students of color, especially at more selective institutions, and how these challenges the mismatch hypothesis follows. The report concludes with ways that institutions can recognize barriers to faculty mentorship and support faculty in engaging in these relationships.



students of color, selective colleges and universities, mentoring in education, higher education counseling