Students Discuss Retention
BSU'v Voice at HBCU Summit
By Kira Ward
Students from various Historically Black Colleges and Universities shared their personal experiences on what it takes to stay in school during a student-led panel on retention at the recent HBCU Summit in Ocean City, Md.
In a wide-ranging discussion, students from Bowie State University and Coppin State University shared their ideas on why students do or do not graduate, including the need for financial aid and self-motivation. These concepts were brought up prior to the panel by many professors who emphasized plans to further assist students who may need to be pushed more then others.
Another student brought up the issue of first generation students who didn't have an example to follow, therefore making it difficult for them to make their own path. Also there is the student who isn't taking their education seriously is an issue.
With so much freedom, entertainment and extracurricular activities, it may be hard for students to focus and balance managing their studies while engaging in everything that college life has to offer. This is something that many students say is an issue in their pursuing higher education.
In addition to issues on the student's side, a panel participant felt as though it the professor's job to keep the attention of the student. He stressed that the young mind is one that wanders and that needs to be cultivated and excited. One example was a professor who noticed that he wasn't getting any feedback so he recorded his lecture, listened to it, and realized that he was boring. This shows that just as students need to apply themselves and do things to make their education experience successful, professors need to evaluate themselves as well in order for it to be a reciprocal interaction in the classroom.
There are students who always feel as though school policies are wrong or that they make it difficult for students to succeed. But students who have issues should use their available resources. A panel member stated that he plans on going to every department to discuss retention because when one department jumps on board, the other ones will want to as well.
Another major theme that all the panel members felt was important was advisement. They said that advisement is essential and that in the case of a student falling behind; advisement not only helps them get back on track, but also makes it easier to go on because of a strong foundation.
The last part of the panel included an address from a disabled alumnus of Bowie State University. He referred to BSU as his "wife" and shared his love for the school and his appreciation for all that the school did for him. His platform was how HBCUs can accommodate disabled individuals and allow them to remain in school and achieve as much as possible. He stressed that the school needs to have access, and that students with disabilities need not make excuses, but play the cards they are dealt and work hard every day to accomplish their goals while not letting a disability stand in their way.
The roundtable discussion ended with comments and questions from the audience. Awards were given out to all the panel participants to show appreciation to their commitment and courage to help retain students in Historically Black College and Universities.