People, Get Ready: Preparing Students for Postsecondary Options

People, Get Ready: Preparing Students for Postsecondary Options

Lauren Parish (YES Prep Eisenhower, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7835-2.ch010

Abstract

Education proves to be a positive and an impactful benefit to those who choose to pursue it. Education is associated with professional stability, economic growth, and social capital. More than ever, there is a strong emphasis on educational achievement and the acquirement of a postsecondary credential. However, achievement gaps persist in the African-American student population. These students need to be adequately prepared to successfully complete a rigorous collegiate program. There are magnitudes of programs designed to assist underrepresented student populations prepare for their college careers. More than ever, considerations regarding postsecondary educational opportunities need to be thoroughly explored. The pursuit of higher education can be daunting, especially for first generational college students. It is imperative that students and families become cognizant of preparatory possibilities that are designed to empower and educate them about the myriad college and career choices.
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Introduction

Education proves to be a positive and an impactful benefit to those who choose to pursue it. Education is associated with professional stability, economic growth, and social capital. More than ever, there is a strong emphasis on educational achievement and the acquirement of a postsecondary credential. However, achievement gaps persist in the African American student population. These students need to be adequately prepared to successfully complete a rigorous collegiate program. There are magnitudes of programs designed to assist underrepresented student populations prepare for their college careers. More than ever, considerations regarding postsecondary educational opportunities need to be thoroughly explored. The pursuit of higher education can be daunting, especially for first generational college students. It is imperative that students and families become cognizant of preparatory possibilities that are designed to empower and educate them about the myriad of college and career choices.

When examining today’s occupational outlook, the importance of a postsecondary education cannot be ignored. While opportunities exist for prospective employees possessing a high school diploma or equivalency degree, their financial compensation and career advancement opportunities can be limited. Reports completed in 2017 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicate that close to 37 percent of available jobs demand a postsecondary credential. Furthermore, 21 percent of jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree (BLS, 2017). In addition to job educational requirements, a familiarization of occupational growth rate is of equal importance. Historically, the growth rate for entry level positions requiring a high school diploma is at an all time low. The projected growth rate for those positions is at four percent (BLS, 2017).

In 1972, the Bureau of Labor Statistics began examining the Black labor force. In the inaugural year of data collection, African Americans made up 10 percent of the United States’ labor force. A 2016 investigation found that African Americans made up 12 percent of the US labor force (Toosi and Joyner, 2018). Upon further inspection, the BLS observed that amongst Black men, labor force engagement has consistently decreased (Tossi and Joyner, 2018). Compounding the aforementioned statistics, the BLS 2016 study also noted that African Americans’ unemployment rate is the highest amongst all ethnic groups.

Education has long been touted as one of the key components to success and advancement. More African Americans are pursuing and completing their education. While positive gains occurred relating to high school graduation rates in the African American community, the labor force is also observing an increase in African Americans without any college credits (Tossi and Joyner, 2018). A postsecondary credential is integral for communities’ positive growth and sustainability. The challenges that students face throughout their academic journey cannot be ignored. Students need to take advantage of programming and opportunities designed to assist with educational pursuits.

African American students can face adversity at their respective college campuses. Challenges experienced by black students can include grappling with cultural identity, academic unpreparedness, and financial burdens. Black students made up six percent of the total US undergraduate student population in Fall 2015 (NCES, 2017). In addition, 85 percent of the black student population attend non-minority serving institutions (Lee & Barnes, 2015). Tinto’s theory of student development conveys that it is imperative for students to possess a sense of belonging at their college campus. Academic prowess is just one element needed for students to succeed in college; social support is of equal importance. These elements are essential to students pursuing a traditional liberal arts education or for students engaging in a vocational education.

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