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Today’s College Students

A Reader

Series:

Edited By Pietro A. Sasso and Joseph L. DeVitis

America’s undergraduates truly represent a mind-boggling diversity. Today’s College Students: A Reader looks at a wide variety of student groups and identities, which sets it apart from other texts on contemporary college students that do not cover such a broad spectrum. The editors and contributors also invite students, their instructors, and other college/university practitioners to be mindful of the crucial, yet sometimes overlooked, connection between extra-curricular campus activities and learning. Sustaining educational moments throughout the undergraduate experience, in and out of the classroom, is why colleges exist. This volume thus reminds us that both social interaction and individual critical reflection are vital collegiate processes, especially in an age of consumerism and the McDonaldization of higher education. Ultimately, the text seeks to reinforce and augment the rich diversity that can make college more rewarding for us all. It is especially useful for courses devoted to today’s college students and diversity, the multicultural university, college student development, and student affairs administration.

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Part One. Student Diversity

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Student Diversity Part One Historical and Contemporary Challenges Faced by African American Undergraduate Students One Ufuoma Abiola, Marybeth Gasman, Thai-Huy Nguyen, Andrés Castro Samayoa, and Felecia Commodore Completion of higher education is critical for African American students. A college education serves a private and public good by providing economic and social benefits both to individuals and to society as a whole (Institute for Higher Education Policy, 2006). Individuals with more education tend to have higher salaries, higher savings, more leisure time, and better health/life ex- pectancy (Institute for Higher Education Policy, 2006). However, for African American students, the U.S. higher education system is not providing the same benefits as compared to White students (Institute for Higher Education Policy, 2006; Long & Riley, 2007). In this chapter, historical and contemporary challenges faced by African American undergraduate students are examined. The argument begins with a discussion of K–12 education and family background and then moves to issues of access and enrollment, persistence and retention, and graduation. This topic is of im- portance because projections indicate that, by 2014, more than 40% of graduating high school seniors will be people of color; by 2015, students of color will represent 37% of all postsecondary enrollments, and 80% of the new undergraduate students will be African American, Hispanic, or Asian/Pacific Islander (Institute for Higher Education Policy, 2006). In order for African American students to survive, thrive, and ultimately graduate from college, postsecondary educators must offer high-quality, customized institutional programs and practices for these students....

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