Reaching out to high-risk students

To increase graduation rates, community colleges are reaching out to high-risk students, especially Latinos, reports Community College Week.

At Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), Pathway to the Baccalaureate supports students from high school to community college to a four-year university.  Forty-five percent of Pathway students are Hispanic, compared to only 14 percent of the school’s overall enrollment.

Hispanic students will make up about one-quarter of the nation’s college-aged population by the year 2025.  Only 19 percent of Hispanics have completed a two-year or four-year degree, compared to 59 percent of Asians, 39 percent of whites, and 28 percent of blacks.

NOVA sends Pathway counselors to local high schools to recruit students who want to go on to earn a four-year degree.

Once in the program, the students get to know their counselors and their peers through one-on-one meetings, pizza parties and trips to NOVA and the campus of George Mason University. The counselors help students navigate the enrollment process, apply for financial aid and take placement tests.

Once enrolled in NOVA, the students take a College Success Class, such as how to take notes and manage their time. They also meet with a retention counselor who helps them deal with academic and personal challenges.

. . . Students with a 2.5 GPA are guaranteed admission to George Mason University.

In Rochester, N.Y., Monroe Community College‘s Doorway to Success program uses peer mentoring to keep Hispanic and black males from dropping or flunking out. It’s increased the retention rate by 6 percent.

“What we’re doing is not a particularly new idea,” (Anne Kress, college president) said. “You are giving students a road map to success and placing them in learning communities so they can travel together. ”

At South Texas College, where more than 90 percent of students are Hispanic, the  First-Year Connection program offers orientation for students and parents. This fall’s program included a session for parents on college demands and how parents can stay involved in their child’s education.

POSTED BY Joanne Jacobs ON September 22, 2010

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