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Meegan CBR

Page history last edited by meeganbrooks@... 10 years, 1 month ago

Meegan Brooks

June 9, 2010

College Drop-Out Prevention

 

Goal/Problem

While Louisiana’s low high school graduation rates are generally the state’s top education priority, low high school performance has consequently affected college graduation rates. The state’s college graduation rate at four-year institutions is approximately 42 percent, 14 points below the national median. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Louisiana has the third-lowest percentage of adults (age 25 and older) with bachelor’s degrees or higher. The state’s low college graduation rate translates into the emergence of an economic crisis. College graduates make up the state’s well-educated class of workers, which are vital to filling existing jobs, establishing new companies, and attracting more businesses into the state. Especially in the midst of Katrina and the current oil spill, Louisiana’s recession has been especially severe, leaving it with less money to allot towards higher education.

This community-based research will examine ways to increase retention in Louisiana colleges, thus enlarging the state’s educated population. While many politicians have recommended different approaches—including redirecting more high school graduates to community colleges or technical programs, rather than four-year colleges, or encouraging colleges to promote retention on their individual campuses—many of these suggestions have sparked more controversy than consensus. Furthermore, the June 8 retirement of Sally Clausen, Louisiana Board of Regents Commissioner of Higher Education, stunts any progress that state colleges may have made on this project. By interviewing community members, I will research why students are dropping out of college, and how the state could increase college graduation rate without exacerbating its existing budget issues.

Research Design

STEP 1: Analyze different approaches

Because several controversial policy approaches have been proposed over the past several months, I will begin by researching these suggestions and contrasting their recommendations. These include:

  • Louisiana GRAD Act: House proposal to reward colleges with high graduation rates by allowing them to set their own tuition

  • Rep. Joe Harrison’s Bill (vetoed June 8, 2010) that would force recipients of TOPS tuition grants to repay their grants if they drop out of college.

  • Directing more high school graduates to community and technical colleges to expand the state’s pool of skilled workers.

  • The University of Louisiana system is currently trying to increase graduation rates (38% overall, 29% for minorities) by raising admissions standards, redesigning courses and improving academic counseling.

STEP 2: Interview community members

I will then talk to community organizers about this issue, and ask about the merit of any of these approaches. Based on the high percentage of college drop-outs, it should not be difficult to find someone who dropped out of school.

STEP 3: Consider options outside of government

YAYA has proven that non-profit groups can significantly improve graduation rates. While YAYA targets high school students, it’s remarkable 95% graduation rate shows that nonprofits can inspire students to stay in school. I will look for other organizations (churches, volunteer programs, on-campus clubs) that have higher college graduation rates. I will then investigate why group leaders think their organizations help members stay in school.

Current Interview List:

  • Sean Reilly, past chairman of Blueprint Louisiana

  • Rontherion Ratliff

  • Tameka Junius

  • Ivyanna

 

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