A recent study by Gallup and the Lumina Foundation revealed that black students have lower six-year completion rates for degree or certificate programs compared to other racial or ethnic groups. The study, released on Thursday, highlights that black students face several obstacles in completing post-secondary programs, including high expenses and racial discrimination. The research found that black students in the least diverse programs are more likely to feel discriminated against or experience physical or psychological harm. It further showed that 21% of currently enrolled black students in all post-secondary institutions reported feeling discriminated against “frequently” or “occasionally.”
The perceptions of discrimination among black students vary based on their field of study. The study found that 32% of black students enrolled in short-term credential programs reported feeling discriminated against, compared to 16% of black students in associate degree programs and 14% in bachelor’s degree programs. The research also indicated that the type of institution attended plays a role in the experiences of black students, with 34% of black students at private for-profit schools reporting frequent or occasional discrimination, compared to 23% in private non-profit institutions and 17% in public institutions.
Additionally, the survey revealed that black students in four-year bachelor’s degree programs are more likely to discontinue their studies than students from other racial and ethnic groups. This is partly due to the fact that black bachelor’s students are twice as likely, at 36%, to have additional responsibilities such as caregiving or full-time work compared to 18% of other students.
However, the survey also found that flexibility in schedules and course delivery is crucial for black bachelor’s students to remain enrolled, with 59% of black students stating that greater flexibility was very important for staying enrolled, compared to 37% of other students. A significant proportion of black students, 47%, place a high value on the flexibility of course delivery, including remote learning options. In contrast, only 29% of other students shared the same sentiment. To enhance retention rates among black students pursuing a bachelor’s degree, the study recommends institutions continuously improve their approach to blending in-person and online learning and providing clear access to counseling services.
Additionally, the survey highlights the need for increased regulatory oversight and accountability measures to prevent for-profit colleges from exploiting minority groups through predatory lending practices and offering substandard programs. The Vice President of Strategic Impact and Planning at Lumina Foundation, Courtney Brown, stressed the importance of addressing this issue, stating that discrimination in access to education opportunities is detrimental to both the individual and society as a whole.