According to a recent research study, which was conducted by the National Bureau of Economic  Research, black and Latino students are more likely than white students to apply to colleges that are closer to their home, that enroll large numbers of minority students, and that have a track record of success with students from their high school. They also typically settle for safer, less challenging colleges and universities when they could have aimed higher.

"We consistently find that Hispanic students are least likely of all ethnic groups to apply to college overall and to elite flagship universities in particular," indicated by the study. The gap persist, according to the study, "even when Hispanic students attend high schools where a majority of students move on to college."

The outlook for African American college-bound students is more nuanced, according to the research: Blacks apply for college at a rate equal to whites, yet they're more likely to seek college and universities where kids from their high school have been successful as well as schools with a large number of black students. Meanwhile, black and Latino students are far more likely than whites to pick a campus near their families.

While the research wrote that the source of those trends are not clear, they recognize that cultural differences, including the likelihood that black and Latino students in the study are the first in their families to head to college, are factors. However, other issues could be in play, including a lack of guidance through the college selection process as well as the high cost of college applications and conflicting emotions about leaving the family nest.