Despite a societal push for students to get a college education, graduation rates are falling. And, contrary to popular belief, many high school students do not go directly into college, particularly among minorities, and if they do, they start and stop due to the high cost of education. In fact, 40% of college students are over the age of 25, work full-time jobs, and have children.
To inspire communities to help reshape the college experience so it prepares everystudent for success in college, career, and life, broadcaster/philanthropist Tavis Smiley will host a town hall discussion entitled “The Future of Higher Education”. Billed as “an open call to rethink and design American colleges to work at their best”, the event—free and open to the public—will be held at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), Beach Auditorium on November 2 from 10:00am-11:30am.
“Only 4 out of 10 Black and Latino college students graduate,” says Smiley. “That is a disturbing fact. The question becomes: How are colleges and universities adapting to the changing dynamics, demographics, and realities of their student bodies? Students who come from lower-income families are not able to compete with those who have money and opportunities. With the rising cost of higher education, many minorities are being left out. We need to look at how educational institutions are bridging this gap to help these students attain college educations.
“Low graduation rates have drastic societal ramifications in terms of economic opportunity and future success. We are looking into how colleges and universities, as well as K-12 school systems, are implementing policies and utilizing technologies to meet the needs of these students—and what still has to be done.”
CSULB was selected to host the discussion because of its progressive stance in dealing with these challenges, which include the city’s “Long Beach College Promise.” In it, the City has extended a promise to ensure that every student in the Long Beach Unified School District receives a college education. The initiative begins in pre-kindergarten, continues throughout college and has been lauded as a model to increase graduation rates and success for its students.
Panelists include CSULB President Jane Close Conoley; California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley and Long Beach Unified School District Superintendent Christopher J. Steinhauser. Sponsors of the event, presented by the Tavis Smiley Foundation, include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.