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How San Jose University is Tackling Their Dropout Problem

“Your college years are the most amazing years of your life! Take advantage of everything your college offers.” This is a statement that many college students hear before, during, and possibly after, their college years. While this statement can generate a lot of positive reassurance, unfortunately many students can say the exact opposite...resulting in students completely dropping out of college. A recent National Public Radio article titled, “How to Fix a Graduation Rate of 1 in 10? Ask the Dropouts,” revealed that just 10 percent of San Jose State University students graduate in four years. San Jose State University decided that something had to change, and went straight to the source to ask why all the dropouts?

There are the usual reasons as to why a student chose to dropout —work/family commitments, not trying hard enough in class, feelings of unpreparedness, etc. However, a handful of San Jose’s faculty discovered the most revealing reason why students (specifically students of color) dropout; the dropouts never felt part of the campus, a sense of belonging.

This shows how important it is for all students, but particularly students of color/first-generation college students, to have a strong support system on campuses across the country. I know first-hand that having a strong community on campus can have an impact on one’s success in college —academically, personally, and professionally. Knowing that other students have the same reservations and fears can generate a bond that will motivate students to finish college together.

San Jose State are beginning to take the necessary steps to create a sense of community to these students and others by creating specialty groups on campus for mentoring and tutoring, creating more classes and understanding the need for more academic advisors for more intimate attention to students, and working with nearby high schools to create summer access programs.

Yes, the dropout rates at colleges and universities will still be present, but efforts like these can motivate students to stay in school…and of course, graduate.

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