Georgia State: A national model in graduating minority students

Congratulations to Georgia State University. In a release today, Education Trust announced that GSU boosted its minority graduation rate by 18.4 percentage points.

In 2002, only 32.3 percent of minority students graduated in six years. By 2007, that rate had increased to 50.7 percent—which exceeds the school’s non-minority graduation rate of 45.5 percent. The university ranks fifth nationwide in the number of bachelor’s degrees granted to African-American students, according to Diverse magazine.

According to the release:

At Georgia State, for example, minority students now graduate at rates higher than their nonminority classmates, putting them atop the list of best improvers in each of the two Ed Trust briefs. According to Ron Henry, the school’s former provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, these gains came first and foremost by focusing on data. Henry and his colleagues used data to identify various potholes on the path to a bachelor’s degree for GSU students, from high failure rates in introductory courses to high dropout rates between the sophomore and junior years, when students transition into courses for their majors.

Although GSU took a campuswide approach to improving outcomes for all students, when administrators disaggregated the data, they found that some programs were particularly effective for minority students. For example, first-year learning communities—where faculty members coordinate teaching two or more courses and often serve as advisers to the same group of students—were instrumental in improving retention rates between the freshman and sophomore years by five to six percentage points for all students. But for minority students, these rates rose by ten to 12 percentage points.

“Georgia State’s example demonstrates that public institutions can strive for access and success simultaneously. Institutions should see these as twin goals, not an either-or proposition,” said Jennifer Engle, assistant director of higher education at The Education Trust and coauthor of the briefs. “To reach President Obama’s goal of regaining the global lead in educated adults by 2020, graduating more students—especially from fast-growing minority groups—must be a national priority.”

20 comments Add your comment


January 28th, 2010
5:57 pm

Check with the Office of Institutional Research to read the demographics of the Ga State black students. Compare it to info from the other IR offices of the prep levels of their black students. With the exception of UGa and GT, I would think the SATs, parental SES, etc of the Ga State students vary markedly from those in other state institutions in Georgia. Self-selection at its best. Be sure it is apples to apples. Nonetheless, kudos to GSU.


January 28th, 2010
6:31 pm

While it is noteworthy for institutions to receive praise for deliberate efforts, it is also important to credit the students who made commitments to finish what they started. This sounds like a fine example of what can happen when both parties involved in learning work hard to meet goals.


January 28th, 2010
6:35 pm

Check filter? Submission from about 6 pm has not appeared. Why do you think so many of mine get caught?


January 28th, 2010
11:51 pm

I wonder how many of those minorities received financial aid to offset their tuition costs compared to nonminorities? I only wonder because I know it took almost 8 years to complete my BA. The reason is I had to pay my way through and when you have to work full time to pay tuition, health care, rent, car insurance, food, clothing, utilities all on your own with no EFC (expected family contribution) it can take longer than 5 years to get through school. But you don’t have to pay even a few of those things and only work part-time it is easier to make it through in under 5 years. I think this report and the reporting are flawed and maybe an additional investigation into these numbers would be good investigative journalism.

Regular Joe

January 29th, 2010
6:53 am

Good for Georgia State! For you blacks and whites out there, minority in this case means “other than white” , not just blacks. Georgia State has a very diverse student body, including many international students.


January 29th, 2010
7:11 am

Regular Joe–good point. See how the minority distribution has changed over time (if it has) at GSU.

Parent of Latina

January 29th, 2010
8:27 am

This includes my Hispanic husband that graduated with a 3.9 GPA in Management. He went for free with the G.I. bill. He also worked 3rd shift 12hrs at a time with a small child at home, while maintaining this GPA. It took hime 51/2 years, because he had to take a few semesters off to take care of his dad. A lot of his success can be attributed to the 5 years in the Marine Corps(they teach you how to focus),the fact that he was not a traditional student(18yr old on parent’s dime), and he did not have a K-12 public education in the states. I would like to see the age distribution, years in the work force, and military experience of these minority students. We have had a large influx of Latino students within the past 10 yrs. Most Latinos try to assimilate to the white culture and make success in school top priority. The minority disadvantage is gone by the 2nd generation. Also, how many of these minorities are foreign born and have a great k-12 foundation, like my husband?

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Mike Hunt

January 29th, 2010
9:51 am

When you talk minority and GSU, I assuming you mean whites being the minority, correct? I’m glad to hear that whites are graduating at a higher rate than before!


January 29th, 2010
10:41 am

Since it is in play for debate, Ms. Downey, what does the IR office say about the racial breakdown at GSU, and the tabs of race and SAT, for example?


January 29th, 2010
5:48 pm

I am a student at GSU. The racial breakdown goes like this: Lots of Blacks, lots of Whites, significant number of Asians, and a few Hispanics. So, yeah, we’re pretty diverse. My Amer. Gmnt professor touched on this in the beginning of class yesterday when he was discussing graduation rates. He asked the class who we thought had the highest graduation rates. The answer was Asain women with Black women as second. He then asked what demographic has the highest drop out rates at GSU. It was White men. GSU is a fair school. Most of the classes are too big and teachers can’t be biased to students when they don’t even know their names. Give my school some credit.


January 29th, 2010
5:58 pm

American Indian or Alaskan Native 113
Asian 3,725
Black 9,504
Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander 93
White 14,238
Two or more races 909
Not reported 1,849
Total (All ethnicities) 30,431

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Just a Thought

January 30th, 2010
12:20 pm

It’s interesting Maureen that whenever you post anything good about minority achievement in education that blog comments fall off significantly. Says a lot about who your readers are. I know you can’t control that but….it’s still interesting. Thank you for posting the great, the good, and the not so good stories. At least you try to be balanced.

Regular Joe

January 30th, 2010
5:57 pm

A breakdown with Hispanics from Fall 2008. The students get along well at GSU also.

Total enrollment: 28,229
Undergraduate enrollment: 20,825
Percent of Undergraduate enrollment
by gender
Men: 39.6%
Women: 60.4%
by race/ethnicity
White non-Hispanic: 34.2%
Black non-Hispanic: 30.2%
Hispanic: 5.5%
Asian or Pacific Islander: 11.0%
American Indian or Alaskan Native: 0.3%
Race-ethnicity unknown: 16.2%
Non-resident alien: 2.7%
(Enrollment data Fall 2008)

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Uncle Commode

February 1st, 2010
8:33 am

Ah yes…the Great Dumbing Down of Society continues.


February 1st, 2010
1:25 pm

Say all the negativity that you will, my African American daughter is included in those numbers. She was declared legally blind in her junior year; took one semester off as she had brain surgery and was back in school by the summer session. She does not use her disability as an excuse. Her professors encourage her to register with the office of disability services…which she has yet to do!

So yes, contrary to what some of you believe, that are African American students who are focused and doing what is right!!!!