Retention program targets at risk students

Brian Lett

This month, City College’s Title V Steering Committee is planning on moving into the next phase of its Student Retention for Success project, a $3.5 million strategy designed to keep students in the classroom and out of cell blocks.

The project, which began late last year, is predicted to take five years in its entirety, the first year of which is comprised of five distinct phases of execution. Currently in motion is the “First Year Experience” phase. This phase is dedicated to improving new students’ first year experience by implementing new programs and institutions fashioned to make it easier for students to access their education.

According to the project’s timetable, this month will include mailing welcome letters containing orientation DVDs prepared earlier this year to new students and parents.

The five sections of the program are the First Year Experience, Accelerated Developmental Education, Structured Learning Assistance, Professional Development, Enrollment Management and Decision-Making. Each portion of the program will be in effect simultaneously over the next five years.

Student Retention for Success is funded by a $3.5 million Title V grant SDCC won last summer. The main goal of the project is to improve the low retention rates of primarily minority students, with a special emphasis on the Latino community.

“Latino students – more specifically Latino males and African-American males – have the lowest transfer rate,” said professor Elva Salinas, who is a part of the professional development phase of the project. “More Latinos and African-American males are in prison than in higher educational systems.”

According to Salinas, it was City College’s high minority population that enabled the school to receive the grant, its second Title V award in the last decade.

“It is a Hispanic-serving institution grant,” said Salinas. “We won the grant because we have 33 percent Hispanic students, which qualified us.”