More Blacks Go to College, But Graduation Lags

Russ Mitchell, CBS News, May 9, 2010

President Obama delivered the commencement address today at Virginia’s Hampton University–his first as president to a predominantly African-American school. Fifty-five percent of African-American high school seniors go on to college these days, compared to 45 percent in 1970.

But graduation day is another story, as CBS News correspondent Russ Mitchell reports.

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Since 2004, American universities have used a six-year standard to measure graduation rates; but even with the extended time, African-Americans still lag in obtaining degrees. Only 43 percent of African-Americans who enter college graduate–20 percent lower than the rate for whites. And for black men its more alarming, with only 36 percent who enter finishing college.

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Hampton currently graduates 55 percent of its students within six-years. That’s better than most universities, but significantly lower than schools like Harvard (95 percent) and Yale (94 percent.).

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But at predominately black universities where the concentration of first generation and low-income students is high, the challenge can be daunting. Seventy percent of students who drop out cite lack of finances Twenty percent of incoming students have to take remedial classes But, historically black colleges still produce 25 percent of the nation’s black graduates.

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