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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Professor analysis: Factors involved in minority retention

Minority groups increased their enrollment at U.S. colleges during the ’90s, but Hispanics and blacks lagged behind Asian Americans and whites in graduating.

The report, released by the American Council on Education, found minority enrollment increased 48 percent in the 1990s.

Minorities make up 28 percent of the entire undergraduate-enrollment population, but account for only 21.8 percent of graduates.

The council called for a national effort to improve the success of minorities in higher education and urged its members to ready minorities at the middle and high school levels for college.

“Retention of low-income and minority students is an ongoing issue,” said Michael Fultz, a professor of educational policy studies at the University of Wisconsin. “A number of universities, including UW, have a variety of programs to try to increase retention. It’s a very difficult issue to try to address.”

Fultz said there are other factors that affect retention and agreed with the council’s recommendations on when college preparation should begin.

“Any number of social issues factor into retention, including campus climate and economic factors,” Fultz said. “There are a number of ways to address the issue, though, many of which might take place at the pre-college level.”

The report also found a gender gap between black men and women. Attendance for black women under the age of 25 increased from just under 40 percent to 43.9 percent but declined for men from 39 percent to 33.8 percent.

The report also noted the gender gap among blacks increased from one percent to 10 percent.

Aaron Brower, a professor of social work at UW, said retention rates are looked at on a national level and that minorities are not the only ones displaying this trend.

“When they talk about retention rates, they talk about averages across the entire United States. The range of retention rates changes considerably,” Brower said. “What’s happening, and it’s true for everyone, is that now there are many more students going to college. Going to college is kind of like going to high school was a generation ago.

“Somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 percent of all college-age people are going to college. And that number is going up, and as that number goes up, the dropout rates go up as well.”

Brower said the report is in contrast to what is occurring at UW, where retention rates of minorities are increasing.

“National retention rates include community colleges, regional colleges, places like Upper Iowa University, which is a correspondence-type college, and, in addition, places like Madison, Princeton and Berkeley,” Brower said. “Retention rates are actually going up at colleges like UW.”

According to a minority enrollment report by UW’s Registrar’s Office, black undergraduates comprised only 593 of the total undergraduate enrollment of 29,861, while Hispanics numbered slightly higher at 601.

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