Men Struggling to Finish at Black Colleges

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), March 29, 2009 | Go to article overview

Men Struggling to Finish at Black Colleges


Byline: Justin Pope Associated Press

MEMPHIS, Tenn. u TheyAEre no longer the only option for African-American students, but the countryAEs historically black colleges and universities brag that they provide a supportive environment where these students are more likely to succeed.

That, though, is not necessarily true.

An Associated Press analysis of government data on the 83 federally designated four-year historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) shows just 37 percent of their black students finish a degree within six years. ThatAEs 4 percentage points lower than the national college graduation rate for black students.

One major reason: the struggles of black men. Just 29 percent of HBCU males complete a bachelorAEs degree within six years, the AP found.

A few HBCUs, like Howard and all-female Spelman, have much higher graduation rates, exceeding the national averages for both black and white students. But others are clustered among the worst-performing colleges in the country. At 38 HBCUs, fewer than one in four men who started in 2001 had completed a bachelorAEs degree by 2007, the data show. At Texas Southern, Voorhees, Edward Waters and Miles College, the figure was under 10 percent.

To be sure, women are outperforming men across education, and many non-HBCUs struggle with low graduation rates. And the rates donAEt account for students who transfer or take more than six years, which may be more common at HBCUs than at other schools.

Most importantly, HBCUs educate a hugely disproportionate share of low-income students. Compared to other colleges defined by the government as "low-income serving," HBCU graduation rates are just a few points lower.

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