Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2017


Boston College Roundtable


In this paper, I look specifically at Catholic colleges in the United States and compare their student enrollment and graduation rates to other types of colleges, and ask if Catholic colleges continue to play a role as levers of economic mobility for students, or if they are reproducing the social class status of their families. Combining institutional data from the College Scorecard and the Equality of Opportunity Project, my analysis shows that Catholic colleges in the U.S. have higher graduation rates than public and other private schools, but they enroll a lower proportion of students who are low income. Catholic colleges also enroll a smaller proportion of first-generation college students than public schools, but a higher percentage of students who identify as Hispanic than other private schools. Some Catholic colleges are primarily educating students whose families are from the highest income quintile, but the proportions vary greatly by school. The combined dataset provides an opportunity for Catholic colleges in the U.S. to examine the demographics of their students and to ask questions about how they want to live out their missions by the students they enroll and ultimately graduate.


© 2017 by the author. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the CC BY-NC 3.0. No changes were made.



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