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Minority Students Less Likely To Feel Supported on Campus

Recent Analysis Shows Gap Between African American, Hispanic Students and Their Peers

Earlier this semester we discovered that less than half of Hispanic students indicated excitement at the start of the academic year. At the time we determined that one of the key drivers of this perspective is the fact that Latinos are more likely to be first-generation college students which meant wrestling with the reality that that their most trusted source of information (family) may not know how to best support them; leading to feelings of nervousness or being overwhelmed.

Two weeks ago we took a dive into data from partner institutions who identify (tag) First Generation students in their EdSights dashboard and their responses to proactive check-ins from their institution’s Adaptive AI bot. Specifically, we wanted to understand if First Generation students felt they had an adequate support system on campus. Over 40% of first generation students responded that they do not always feel like they have someone to reach out to … 10 points higher than their peers.

Gaps in Support Systems for African American Students

This week we analyzed close to 3,000 responses from students at 19 institutions to identify other populations of students that may not know about or understand what support systems are available to them on campus.

​​When asked, “If you have an issue, do you have someone to reach out to at school?” nearly half of African American respondents indicated they did not.

Nearly half (49%) of African American respondents indicated they did not always or never felt like they had someone to reach out to on campus for support; opposite the response from Caucasian and Hispanic students where nearly 2 out of 3 (61%) of respondents responded positively to the prompt.

Mixed Trends Amongst Hispanic Students

Students from a Hispanic or Latino origin are just as likely as Caucasian students to believe they have someone to reach out to at school. However when analyzed more closely, the share of students indicating that they do not believe they have someone to reach out to at all is nearly 4 percentage points higher. While this gap may not seem like much it is important to remember that combining First Generation status and this population’s lack of enthusiasm to start the semester compounds the key drivers of belonging and engagement that may negatively impact their ability to persist at the institution.

Supporting Minority Student Persistence

Much like supporting all key drivers can have a positive impact on overall mental health, setting up programs to support minority students will have a positive impact on the broader campus community as a whole.

Initiatives may include:

  • Proactive and consistent outreach to students who are members of these unique communities. A key outcome from the PERSIST Summit earlier this year was the acceptance that your team will never have all of the answers to every challenge. However, oftentimes the act of simply listening can be the difference in a student’s decision to persist.

  • Designate a point person to monitor and track opportunities for intervention. When a student indicates they do not feel they have a support system on campus, the time to introduce them to those resources is now.

  • Prioritized outreach to students identified as at-risk. Time is not unlimited. It will be important to ensure that you and your team are equipped to address challenges in the face of potential staff shortages and their own work/life balance.


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