California urged to improve college access for young men of color

Alison Yin for EdSourceAlison Yin for EdSourceToo many black, Latino, Native American and Pacific Islander young men in California face difficult barriers in trying to complete high school and enroll in and finish college, according to a new report by the Education Trust-West.
In addition to grappling with cultural and ethnic biases, young men of color disproportionately attend high schools without enough science labs, counselors and college preparatory classes and are more likely to be expelled or suspended than white students, the report said. Only 76 percent of Latino boys and 67 percent of African-American boys graduate from California high schools compared to 85 percent of white and 94 percent of Asian boys, the study noted. Disparities continue in college enrollment and graduation rates.
The report, titled “Hear My Voice: Strengthening the College Pipeline for Young Men of Color in California,” urged high schools, colleges and policy makers to take steps so those students “overcome the additional hurdles they often confront above and beyond what most other students face.” It declared that “the economic future of the state will hinge on our ability to help” those minority men – including Hmong and Laotian students along with the other groups – succeed in high school and college.

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Among its recommendations, the study urges high schools to foster “a welcoming environment with high expectations,” including mentorships and small learning communities; connect families sooner to information about college applications and financial aid; expand access to and enrollment in college prep courses; improve staff diversity and hire bilingual staff; and confront implicit and explicit biases.
At the college level, campuses should improve access to and expand financial aid, bolster counseling and reform remedial education so it improves graduation rates, the Education Trust-West said. Young male college students of color should be offered summer bridge or transition programs that help them “gain study skills and reflect on their identity as male students of color on a college campus, alongside peers.” It spotlighted successes of some programs like those focused on black students at Chaffey and Pasadena City colleges and other community colleges around the state.
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