The Impact of Community Engagement as a Strategy in the Retention of Minority Students at an Urban, Public Commuter Campus
Alonzo, Liza L
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The demographics of higher education are changing and causing a more diverse and non-traditional college-going sect entering colleges and universities today. Institutions of higher education are faced with declining financial means and increasing student need. Further, the large majority of minority students are not being retained nor graduating from college with a degree, but are often left with mounting student loan debt. Realizing this is of great national concern, President Obama has instituted a college completion agenda intended to make substantial gains by 2020. As part of this initiative, colleges and universities are being challenged to think differently and called to change the ways they support students because the status-quo is not working. Obtaining a college degree is a necessary objective for students, particularly those who are first-generation and underserved students seeking to advance in socio-economic status and society in general. Retaining students, especially minority students, is a real challenge facing college campuses today. Institutions are trying to better understand the unique and diverse myriad of needs for this growing student population. This study focuses on the importance of degree attainment for underserved populations and offers the solution of participating in community engagement during their student experience as a central retention strategy. This solution for minority retention presents students an opportunity to become more engaged, build community at their institution, and tie what they are leaning in their classroom curriculum to the world outside their campus.