The U.S. Collegiate Education System Is Setting Minorities Up To Fail

The U.S. Collegiate Education System Is Setting Minorities Up To Fail

I've been an undergraduate student since 1999. This is the struggle to graduate from college as a Black student.
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Lately, I've been thinking that society is set up to make the "others" fail. More specifically, the post-secondary education system.

The "others" I'm referring to are people who are not Caucasian.

I feel this way because it doesn't make sense that I haven't received my bachelor's degree — yet I've been an undergraduate student since September 1999.

I was cut off from receiving financial aid before I started my final semester of undergraduate study. Really? They waited until I was going to graduate to drop that bomb on me?? "Sorry, we don't want to help you anymore; thanks for all your financial aid you've been wasting with us all these years!"

Does anyone who is not caucasian graduate on time?

There are only 17.5% Black students at my university. 17.4% graduate from my college within six years. Yet, over 50% of Caucasians, non-resident aliens, and unknown racial identity students graduate within six years. Another surprising statistic is that only 20% of all students graduate from my college in four years. The percentage of overall graduation gets higher for five years and six years, but never over 50% of all students graduate.

So everybody is struggling to graduate, yet when they do, it's the Caucasians, non-resident aliens, and unidentified races that graduate the most. Even a little over 25% of Hispanic and Asian students graduate within six years. This compares to the only 17.4% of Blacks that graduate.

All these numbers are low, but I find the percentages for Black students to be worst of all. Do I just go to a crappy university, or are the problems with the graduation systems deeper than just one campus?

I find it hard to believe that after hour upon hour, day after day, and month after month of applying for alternate sources of financial aid that NOTHING has panned out. The very few undergraduate retaining services available haven't panned out either.

What is the purpose of continuously keeping students past the time they're supposed to be an undergraduate student? Is it really just to drain their financial aid to the max and then leave them high and dry without a credential or cent to their name? A schools' graduation rates affect their future funding and enrollment rates of future students. So the more students they graduate, the more funds they get, and more students enroll because they see that others are graduating on time.

I don't see a downside to students graduating college when they're supposed to.

I had plans. I was going to graduate, get a better and higher paying position, hopefully, pass the GRE, then start Graduate school. There's no reason to be 37 years old and still barely living from paycheck to paycheck. My life can't start 'till I get a bachelor's degree. Yet, the system is holding me back.

Is it due to my race?

I feel like I need a life coach or something. Someone to show me where and how to get ahead in life. Where can I go to improve my life? When can I arrive at my final destination instead of always trying to get there?

I'm at a crossroad.

Cover Image Credit: Bruce Mars

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7 Truths About Being A Science Major

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Whether your major is Human Bio, Chemistry, Neuroscience or any other that deals with a lot of numbers, theories, experiments and impossibly memorizing facts, you know the pressures of pursuing a career in this field. So without further ado, here are seven truths about being a science major:

1. There is no “syllabus week.”

Coming back to college in the fall is one of the best times of the year. Welcome week has become most students' favorite on-campus holiday. But then you have syllabus week: another widely celebrated week of no responsibilities… Unless you’re a science major that is. While your other friends get to enjoy this week of getting to know their professors and class expectations, you get to learn about IUPAC nomenclature of alkanes on the first day of organic chem.

2. Your heart breaks every time you have to buy a new textbook.

Somehow every professor seems to have their own “special edition” textbook for class… And somehow it’s always a couple hundred bucks… And somehow, it's ALWAYS required.

3. Hearing "attendance is not mandatory," but knowing attendance is VERY mandatory.

Your professor will tell you that they don’t take attendance. Your professor will put all lecture slides online. Your professor will even record their lectures and make those available as well. Yet if you still don’t go to class, you’ll fail for sure. Coming into lecture after missing just one day feels like everyone has learned an entire new language.

4. You’re never the smartest person in your class anymore.

No matter what subject, what class or what concentration, there will always be someone who is just that much better at it than you.

5. You get totally geeked out when you learn an awesome new fact.

Today in genetics you learned about mosaicism. The fact that somebody can have a disease in part of their total body cells but normal throughout all others gets you so hype. Even though you know that your family, friends and neighbors don’t actually care about your science facts, you HAVE to tell them all anyways.

6. There is never enough time in a day.

You are always stuck choosing between studying, eating, sleeping and having fun. If you're lucky, you'll get three of these done in one day. But if you're a risk taker, you can try to do all of these at once.

7. You question your major (and your sanity) almost daily.

This is especially true when it’s on a Tuesday night and you’ve already consumed a gallon of Starbucks trying to learn everything possible before your . Or maybe this is more prevalent when you have only made it through about half of the BioChem chapter and you have to leave for your three hour lab before your exam this afternoon. Regardless, you constantly wonder if all the stress is actually worth it, but somehow always decide that it is.

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The College Student's 17-Step Guide To Writing A Last-Minute Paper

Don't panic.

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As an English major, I wrote a lot of papers. So it should be no surprise that several of them were written hours before they were due, which I would not recommend if possible. But we don't live in an ideal world, so:

1. Don’t panic.

You will write much faster if you are mostly calm, collected, and focused. Freaking out never helped anyone.

2. Read the paper’s requirements thoroughly.

Nothing sucks quite as much as writing an entire paper and then realizing that you missed a crucial part or guideline for the paper...and then rewriting.

3. Pick a topic that you already know and understand well.

It can be fun to learn by writing papers on unfamiliar things, but last-minute essays are not good for that. Your goal right now is to show your professor that you understand the material.

4. Find sources that are clear, easier to read, and shorter in length.

Longer does not necessarily mean more valid. You need information that is easy to find and use.

5. Protip: online journal articles and books can often be searched by keywords.

This is invaluable.

6. Focus your topic even more by doing a topic list or even an unorganized idea page.

Some of these will overlap and make great main points; others will be discarded. Use the ones that are cohesive and communicate the same point but with different approaches.

7. Create a thesis.

Your thesis needs to be concise and argue a point. The thesis should also contain your main points and why they are in your arguments.

8. Take your page requirement or convert word requirement to pages and multiply by two.

This is roughly how many paragraphs you will need. Though two of these will be your introduction and conclusion.

9. Create your outline using your points from your idea paper and the main points in your thesis statement.

You should have about the same amount of main points and subpoints totaled as paragraphs that you need: five pages = 10 paragraphs, so two for introduction and conclusion, and eight for main and subpoints.

10. Make notes in your outline as to which sources go with which points. 

Page numbers or at least chapter numbers are helpful to include here.

11. Once your paper is planned, take a five-minute break.

Go to the bathroom, grab a snack, or take a walk around the library.

12. Queue up your best paper-writing music and write.

Try to average about half a page or so for each point on your outline. Though this is not a strict guideline.

13. As your productivity wanes, take another five-minute break.

Just don't start scrolling or anything else that will distract you for longer than five minutes. The best thing is to stretch your legs. If you are in a real time crunch, sometimes creating your works cited/bibliography page feels like a mental break. You just don't want to slump.

14. When your paper is written, and if you still have a bit of time left, take another short break maybe for 10 or 15 minutes this time.

This break is also a good time to create the works cited/bibliography page.

15. Then proofread/edit your paper, even if for only five minutes.

You may catch simple mistakes that will save several points on your grade. It's worth doing.

16. Make sure all of the sources you cited are on your works cited page/ bibliography and that all the works you have on your works cited page/bibliography are used as sources in your paper.

Use Word's search tool and search for the identifier of the source (last name of author or title).

17. Finally, submit that paper!!!

You did it! Take a break, treat yourself with something small, like a coffee or pizza, and try to give yourself more time to write for your next paper.

While last-minute papers are not ideal and can be quite stressful, they happen often in college. So learn how to deal with them instead of being scared of them. Happy paper writing!

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