Graduating Minorities: An Issue with Many Solutions

Earlier in the week, Newsweek ran an article regarding the progress of minority college graduation rates. The article provides a good statistical and illustrative overview of challenges faced by some colleges and universities attempting to boost their minority enrollment and graduation rates. While it would be easy to pick apart some of the broad generalities discussed in the article, Newsweek does a good job of highlighting some of the high level barriers and issues associated with trying to keep minority candidates progressing through the college academic pipeline. And while debates can be had to determine why some colleges do better than others (some of which are discussed in the article), I think there are several commonalities associated with colleges and universities that successfully graduate minority college students. This is not an issue without solution.

First is focus and awareness. Colleges and universities that have higher minority graduation rates are simply paying more attention to it and employ initiatives to get it done. Incorporating minority graduation metrics into an overall strategic plan is part of what these colleges and universities do to assure success at an institutional level.

Secondly, one of the most important things any college can do is challenge these students to do more; however, the institution must also be willing to support that effort through improved teaching methods and support services. Even through my own teaching experience, I see that students always rise to the level of expectation. But with that raised level of expectation also comes a commitment from me to support the efforts a student will need to succeed. Indeed it requires more time and effort on my part, but it’s one of the reasons I enjoy being an educator – to make a difference in the life of someone that really needs it.

Finally, it’s a question of action. As a former university administrator, I know the issue of minority graduation rates is not a new problem. I can remember attending many meetings to discuss initiatives, plans, strategies, and task forces that would combat the issue. Yet these plans, while great on paper, were rarely implemented due to a change in leadership, funding, or other resources. Bottom line, lagging minority graduation rates is not an issue with a shortage of remedies. It’s a question of getting it done and inciting colleges and universities to take this issue head on.