High drop-out rates for male students have inspired the Community College of Denver to focus on helping men stay in school, reports the Denver Post. Fewer than 40 percent of students are men. Each year, one third to one half of male students leave without a credential.
Men are reluctant to seek help, said Ryan Ross, dean of students and retention.
“For some, there’s the pride factor, them saying, ‘I’m a man, I take care of my own and I’m not gonna ask anybody for help,” Ross said. “We have men here who are in dire situations. Maybe they’re homeless; maybe they’re not eating. We have a food bank but they won’t go because they don’t want to show weakness. “They’ll say, ‘ I’m on the campus, but I don’t want a pity party.’ “
Clenton Tunson, Jr. of Denver used to come for classes and go straight home. But this spring, he was persuaded to check out an Urban Male Initiative meeting. “I walked in and I haven’t left since.”
A father of three, Tunson enrolled in school after he was laid off from his job at a mechanical engineering design firm. For a time, he thought it might be better for him to work and let his wife continue school. But his lack of a degree was holding him back from even getting interviewed for jobs, he said. And he also realized that preaching the value of education to his children would ring hollow if he wasn’t walking the talk himself.
“Men will drop out and get a job to support their family,” said Leslie McClellon, CCD’s vice president of student development. But, without an education, men can’t earn enough.
Urban Male Initiative offers a two-week summer bridge program that covers study and leadership skills.
“We don’t want the fluff leadership speech — we want to know, how did you fail and how did you get up?” Ross said. “We want to really give the students that push, to say I have to keep going because here’s somebody who’s a role model and they’ve had pitfalls and they were able to get up.”