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By Gerianne Wright
A national organization has ranked SUNY Plattsburgh among the top 25 public colleges across the nation for closing the graduation-rate gap between African American and white students.
The 2012 study by The Education Trust — a non-profit striving to close academic gaps — examined public and private four-year colleges that successfully improved minority graduation rates.
To indicate the importance of closing these gaps, the report cited an increasing need for highly skilled laborers in the workforce, noting that by 2018, 63 percent of all jobs are expected to require a college degree.
Filling those jobs will be difficult, it said, unless college completion rates for African Americans improve. Currently, 40 percent of white 25- to 29-year-olds have earned at least a bachelor’s degree. For African Americans, the number is half that rate.
Over the six-year period studied, SUNY Plattsburgh eliminated its gap. In 2004, black students at Plattsburgh had a 50 percent graduation rate, compared to a 56.7 percent rate among their white peers. By 2010, both numbers had risen, with black students now holding a 60 percent graduation rate and a 58.9 percent rate among white students.
The college credits programs like the Educational Opportunity Program, Student Support Services and the STAR program for improving student success. For instance, the college has seen dramatic improvements in graduation rates for students in EOP, a program that targets disadvantaged students, often minorities, who would not otherwise meet the college’s admission standards.
“An improvement like this takes a collective effort of support services, such as EOP; SSS; STAR; the Learning Center; Academic Advising; ample and appropriate Student Association clubs; and effective teaching and advising by our faculty,” said Bryan Hartman, interim vice president for student affairs.
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