Thursday, May 12, 2011

Closing the "Race Gap" in College

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In student affairs, and in life, there are competing theories to the role of race and socioeconomic status in academic success.  Across the board, studies show that students who are actively engaged in their academic experience and who feel included as a part of their campus are more likely to graduate and to perform at a high level.  Every incoming freshman experiences some degree of alienation from their campus or classes and questions their choices.  I wanted to share an article and accompanying video that I read a while ago in Stanford University News that postulates that minority students reacted very positively to a 60 minute exercise designed at making them feel more psychologically normalized.

It’s amazing what self esteem can do.  I did more research on the “race gap” as it’s being called, the lower achievement of minority students as compared to white students, and it’s receiving a great deal of attention right now in the research world.  This article believes that much of the race gap is easily explained by inadequate public school systems in poorer neighborhoods, but is more concerned with the fact that minority students with access to better schools also consistently show lagging performance.  ”This is the question that has prompted fifteen racially integrated, affluent school districts to form a consortium known as the Minority Student Achievement Network. Comprised of districts located in communities such as White Plains, NY, Ann Arbor, Michigan and Berkeley, California, the network seeks to understand the causes of the racial achievement gap and to devise solutions for reversing it.”

I’m loving the Lessons Learned about the Achievement Gap and would like to commit myself to learning more about what I can do to help provide equal education for all. You can join me in my hunt for information and wisdom at their website. I don’t claim to have any new research or information to add to this conversation, but I was interested in reading new perspectives on an old problem. And I find that it’s relevant because I was recently awakened to what this means in my own personal career hunt.

You’ve already read about when I was able to interview for Graduate Assistantships at Clemson University and, at the end of the process, rank the assistantships in order of the ones I would like to receive. Clemson’s Emerging Scholars program was something I had never heard of before and ended up being my #1 choice.  The program focuses on simply creating accessibility to education and fostering an expectation of success which is, I think, the first step in closing the gap.  I’d love to be a part of that in some way, and while I didn’t end up being offered that position I’m so grateful that the experience opened my eyes to even more possibilities in professional choices. Now I know that I need to create opportunities at UF and Santa Fe that allow me to explore my very obvious passions for diversity and equally accesible education.

Do you know of other programs in colleges that are working to close the Race Gap?  If so, please let me know of them.  I’d love to do more research

Posted by at 02:52 PM
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