ACE Report Cites Enrollment Gains, Retention Problems
American Indians make most significant gains at master’s degree level.
By Dianne Hayes
The college enrollment of Hispanic students jumped nearly 70 percent between 1993-2003, while the number of Blacks earning bachelor’s degrees in computer science and other science fields increased dramatically, according to a new American Council on Education report on the status of minorities in higher education.
Overall minority enrollment rose by 50.7 percent between 1993 and 2003, to total more than 4.7 million students. The number of White students remained relatively flat, growing by only 3.4 percent, to 10.5 million, according to the “Minorities in Higher Education Twenty-second Annual Status Report.”
American Indians achieved gains in all degree categories over the period studied, with the most significant increase occurring at the master’s degree level. Foreign students were the only group in 2003 to have earned more master’s degrees than bachelor’s and associate degrees combined.
While more minority students are enrolling in college, the percent actually walking out with degrees is troubling low, experts say.
Spelman College President Beverly Daniel Tatum attributes low retention rates to a lack of financial aid and preparation in
K-12 education, including limited access to Advanced Placement and Honors classes in high school. “Most of our students are working part-time — more than we would like to see — and some are full time,” she said.
Hispanics accounted for 41 percent of the new minority students over the past 10 years. In 2003, there were 316 Hispanic-serving institutions, which accounted for more than half of all Hispanic enrollment.
HBCUs saw an 8.3 percent increase in enrollment between 1993 and 2003, and enrolled more than 303,500 students. About 17,650 students were enrolled in tribal colleges in 2003.
Among students who began during the 1995-1996 academic year, Asian-American students had the highest rate of attaining a bachelor’s degree, 62.3 percent, by July 2000. Meanwhile, 30.1 percent of Black students had dropped out of school.
The report also found that Blacks more than doubled the number of master’s degrees they earned annually, from 20,000 degrees in 1993 to 45,000.
The number of full-time faculty positions held by minorities grew from 65,000 in 1993 to more than 97,000 in 2003.
The Status Report uses data from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau.
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