National, local minority graduation rates suffer

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Opinion. Art by Chris Brockman.

Opinion. Art by Chris Brockman.

When choosing a university to attend, there are several important factors to consider.  Most students going into college take note of the university’s size, location, housing and cost of the university. However, one important aspect that is continually pushed out of the picture seems to be graduation rates.

In 2013, the national 4-year graduation rate 23.8 percent. The rate was 21.8 percent at West Texas A&M University, according to institutional research for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) Accountability System. This number includes students who enrolled in the fall of 2009, taking the complete four years to obtain their degrees. While WTAMU was only slightly lower than the national average, it is surprising to note that slightly more than one in five freshman students will graduate from college in the normal four year term.

In addition to graduation rates, students often neglect the persistence rate of students at universities they are considering.  According to the institutional research, the overall persistence rate of first-time, degree-seeking undergraduates at WT was 78.1 percent for students who entered in the fall of 2012.

The statistics can be broken down into ethnicity. The persistence rate of first-time students entering in the fall of 2012 was 76.8 percent for Hispanic students and 69.5 percent for African American students, compared to 80.2 percent for white students. Statistically, minority students are dropping out at a higher rate.

In a study that researched minorities over six years conducted by — stated that more than 60 percent of white students receive their bachelors degree after six years, while only 49 percent of Hispanics and 40 of African American students earn their degree in a six year span. So, statistically, three out of every five Caucasian students will earn their degree in 6 years, while an entire less African America will graduate in the belated six year path.

The university has researched this issue and began to implement programs through the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to reach minority students and ensure they are gaining the best university experience possible while hoping to boost graduation rates in the process. One of these programs includes the ASH program, which is an active study hall for freshmen and transfer students. This program aims to help understand college expectations and allow freshman students to make connections with peer leaders.

Universities across the nation need to join the effort to help the retention rates of minorities in college.  An easy way for students to drop out of college in general is to not have academic assistance and social involvement. Programs such as the ASH program are helping students get involved with their campus. Building a lasting involvement with the college campus will encourage students to retain higher grades, leading to more financial aid possibilities and greater overall moral.


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National, local minority graduation rates suffer