Tag Archives: Education

Social Involvement as a Retention Model

16 Jan

Students-Gospel-Choir

By:  The Curious Counselor

As an educator and student services professional, the recent onslaught of violence against African-American youth, particularly males, has created a quandary of sorts as we begin another academic year. I find it immensely important to critically examine the retention and persistence policies in community colleges as a solution to the harsh perceptions toward African American youth that has been ingrained in our country’s social fabric.

A number of researchers have developed theses and respective practices for promoting retention, persistence, and ultimately, student success. One of the most compelling and poignant ideas floating around the educational advising blogosphere is social involvement behaviors as a construct built into first-year student programming. Vince Tinto, a leading educational researcher, broadly defines social involvement behaviors as: relationships with staff; building peer relationships; personal experiences; using campus facilities; and extracurricular activities.

So…what should a successful first-year experience look like for African American students? Prestigious universities like University of California, Los Angeles and Fayetteville State University in North Carolina offer the Freshman Summer Program (FSP) and the Freshman Year Initiative (FYI) respectively. At both universities, students are provided comprehensive, student success driven programming which involve academic and personal support services tailored to individual student needs. Students are provided remedial math and writing services, peer advisors, and targeted course scheduling/patterns. Additionally, students are exposed to the campus environment in a way that promotes connections to the staff, faculty, current students, and surrounding communities.

These programs could be easily replicated to fit the demographics and environmental norms at community colleges across the country. Whether newly matriculating from high school, returning from combat, or retraining for vocational/career advancement, a strong first-year experience for new students is an integral facet of higher education programming. Hopefully this inspires other educational professionals to begin to develop and aim for social involvement as a key methodology in student engagement.

7th Annual Pan-African Studies Forum at CSULA with Dr. Cornel West

7 Jun

Cornel West FlyerThe LACCD BFSA supported the Department of Pan-African Studies’ 7th Annual Forum celebrating 45 years of its program.  The theme of the program was “The Indispensability of Black Studies for Understanding the Falsity of Post-Racialism.”  Dr. Cornel West was the featured speaker.  CSULA’s Pan-African Studies department has been involved in a recent struggle to make their courses part of the General Education program.  Read more here:  http://www.fightbacknews.org/2014/2/2/fight-black-chicano-studies-continues-csula.

In support of the CSULA’s Pan-African Studies department and of the scores of students who will eventually attend the university, the LACCD BFSA donated $500 toward the endowment of the Pan-African Studies Department’s Dr. C.R.D. Halisi Scholarship.  The scholarship provides support to outstanding Pan-African Studies majors each year…those who reflect the vision, intellect, commitment and humanity of former department head, Dr. Halisi, who passed away in 2013.

For a glimpse of Dr. Cornel West’s talk, watch the short video and photo stream below by notable Los Angeles based photographer, Leroy Hamilton.