AR School Works to Attract More Students to Higher Ed
Friday, September 30, 2022
A new report on Black students in the community college system found fewer are signing up to attend two-year schools, and the college enrollment downturn has been even sharper in the pandemic.
Debra West, chancellor of Arkansas State University Mid-South, an Arkansas college which has started to buck the trend, said her two-year school also has seen declining enrollment, and the drop was more dramatic among white students than Black students. But West pointed out the school has renewed its focus on adding programs to attract more students of color.
One popular course of study trains people for the in-demand field of commercial truck driving.
"The other area that we think we have tremendous room for expansion in is in health care," West explained. "We're going to start by focusing on our EMT program and hopefully expanding that into a paramedic program, because we know there's a lot of interest in health care programs in our area, and great demand for trained health care workforce in our area."
The report by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies on Black students' experiences in community college showed enrollment dropped 18% for all Black students from Fall 2019 to Fall 2021, and detailed other pressures preventing students from completing school, including hunger and housing insecurity.
The report also found lower graduation rates among Black community college students. West said her school's overall graduation rate was only about 9% in 2015. However, they have implemented some recommendations from Complete College America, such as eliminating late registration, creating flexible scheduling and capping most associate degrees at 60 hours. Now, she reported the graduation rate is ticking up.
"We have actually increased our graduation rate by 19.8% over the past five years," West noted. "We're currently at 33.6%, which is pretty average for Arkansas, but indicates that we still have work to do."
Last year, the school's completion rate for African American students was 31%, and 32% for white students. West added student loans are not an issue at the school, as it does not provide them. Instead, students get locally-funded scholarships or federal Pell Grants.
Support for this reporting was provided by Lumina Foundation.
get more stories like this via email
Health and Wellness
In the wake of the devastating overdose epidemic in North Carolina, the state's Department of Health and Human Services is stepping up to aid …
In cities across the globe, including the Michigan city of Midland, various organizations are commemorating International Day of Peace today…
Georgia's young people could shift the political landscape of the state in the near future. New data from the Brookings Institution indicates that …
In rural Alabama, where hurricanes and tornadoes are a constant threat, communities often struggle with damage and limited resources for extended …
While many Wyomingites of Hispanic descent came from Mexico, there is a lesser-known population from the old Spanish settlements of northern New …
People in rural America are five times as likely to live in so-called "ambulance deserts," areas far from an ambulance service or station, than those …
Health and Wellness
The prevalence of Type 2 diabetes is on the rise in Mississippi. About one in seven Mississippians lives with diabetes. Jernard A. Wells, cookbook …
This week, feminism passes a milestone of sorts as the iconic publication, Ms. Magazine, looks back on its first fifty years. A new book has just …