Report Finds More Black Students in California are Attending College, but Only Half Graduate

According to a report from The Campaign for College Opportunity, despite increases in enrollment rates for Black students in California, the state’s community colleges and universities still have major racial inequities in retention and graduation rates.

The report states that in recent years, California has done well in preparing Black students for college. The researchers found that nearly 90 percent of Black 19-year-olds in California have a high school diploma, over 204,000 Black undergraduate students are enrolled as students in California, and two-thirds of all Black adults in California have gone to college. However, the study also found that half of Black adults in California left college without a degree and that across all segments of higher education, colleges and universities graduate Black students at lower rates than White students.

In order to combat this racial inequity, the report details specific recommendations for California’s higher education leaders to consider. These include, setting specific statewide college attainment goals for Black students, supporting Black adults with some college experience to finish their degrees, ensuring strong pathways for community college students to transfer to universities, providing state financial aid for low- and middle-income students, creating welcoming environments for Black students on California campuses, establishing a centralized education data system to improve outcomes for Black students, and providing adequate oversight of for-profit colleges.

“Our state and college leaders need to do more than speak about the importance of diversity and equality; they need to urgently act to eliminate the barriers that stand in the way of our Black students’ ability to access, afford, and complete college,” said Michele Siqueiros, president of the Campaign for College Opportunity. “Black Californians are an essential force in our economy, our communities, and our identity. We cannot continue to squander their talent.”

The full report, The State of Higher Education for Black Californians, can be accessed here.

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  1. This report is just an example of what many reports indicate about the uneven rates of degree completion when it comes to minority students (.e.g. African Americans). The issues cited in the article and the report itself are prevalent in many other states across the country. The challenges for higher education policy makers and for the institutions themselves is to implement research-based practices to significantly improve degree completion for those minority students who are already in the college pipeline as well as for those who have dropped out but want the opportunity to finish. It is a two-pronged approach that should be implemented across the country.

    • Wayne State University, in Detroit, Michigan provides or allows those students who previously attended WSU , but did not complete their degree requirements because of their inability to pay tuition owed, to return to school to finish their degree requirements. In summary; Students past due tuition will be paid by the University in three installments, that is a third of the tuition will be paid in three consecutive semesters; so long as the student remains in good academic standings. The WSU model can be used at other institutions for the purpose of helping a number of students finish their degree requirements. Of course there are other reasons why students fail to complete their degree requirements, however the lack of financial ability can be circumvented to a great extent.

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