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Community College Aspirations for Men of Color Don't Match Outcomes

Only 5 percent of black and Latino men attending community college finish within three years, compared to 32 percent of white male students, a report from the Center for Community College Student Engagement released Wednesday said.

Based on responses from 145,000 male community college students in the center's annual survey and 30 focus groups with men of color, the report identified four factors that were key to college success for this group:

  • building strong personal connections on campus;
  • being held to high expectations;
  • encountering instructors who are committed to their achievement, and
  • being intensively engaged in the academic experience.

However, researchers were struck to learn that African-American men were more likely to attend class, attend orientation, and seek out help than their white male counterparts, yet were less likely to complete. The report suggests one factor may be that many minority students arrive on campus less prepared academically. African-American and Latino students enter with lower scores in math and reading on the ACT than their white counterparts.

Men of color are more likely to choose a community college than any other type of higher education institution.

"Community colleges open their doors to all learners," said Kay McClenney, director of the center, in a press release. "However, open access is only the first step in attaining the equity ingrained in the mission of community colleges. The more significant work is ensuring that all students have the support needed to succeed."

Mentoring programs designed specifically for men of color, such as one in North Carolina, were highlighted in the report as a models to consider. Also, offering mandatory study-skills classes, learning communities, and tutoring to all students could help improve success, without singling minority students as a special group in need of help, the researchers noted.

Among Americans age 25 to 34, nearly 49 percent of whites have an associate degree or higher, while 30 percent of African-Americans and 20 percent of Latinos have attained the same level of education, according to the report.

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