Persistence Rate among Minorities at Mason Surpasses National Average

Posted: November 23, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Daniel Walsch

The persistence or retention rate among minority students at George Mason is higher than the national average, according to new statistics released by the university’s Office of Institutional Research and Reporting.

In each of the four major categories of minorities–African American, Hispanic, Asian, and American Indian–students persist from their first year of college to the second at Mason at a rate higher than what comparable institutions of higher learning across the country experience.

For African American students, the rate at Mason is 77.7 percent as compared with the national average of 72.6 percent. For Hispanic students, the rate at Mason is 76.2 percent compared with the national average of 71.9 percent. For Asian students, the rate at Mason is 81.2 percent compared with the national average of 79.3 percent. For American Indians, the rate at Mason is 68.7 percent compared with the national average of 62.4 percent. Even Caucasian students at Mason fare better than the national average: 73.6 percent compared to 72.6 percent nationally.

Multiple factors contribute to the success of any college or university’s persistence rate. According to Linda Schwartzstein, vice provost for academic affairs, they include the quality of a student’s contact with faculty, their experience with campus life, their classroom experience, and how comfortable they feel within the institution’s overall environment.

Mason’s advances in incorporating technology into the classroom have contributed to helping raise the comfort level of many minority students, particularly those for whom English is a second language. Providing course materials online allows students to go over material until they’ve mastered it, whereas they might not catch some of the points in a traditional lecture course, explains Joy Hughes, vice president for information technology.

“Providing online communications in a course increases the participation rate of groups that would normally not ask questions in class,” she says.

During the 2002-03 and 2003-04 academic years, Mason offered more than 2,000 courses in WebCT. These courses had more than 38,000 student users and nearly 1,500 faculty users.

University Life also works to make minority students more comfortable. “George Mason has one of the most diverse student populations in the United States,” says Sandy Hubler, vice president for university life. “We work hard at making all of our first-year students feel comfortable with their decision to come to Mason regardless of their ethnic background. We take the time to get to know them; learn about their experiences, values, and behavioral patterns; and engage them in dialogue about how they see themselves contributing to and participating in the world.”

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