Dr. Angela Long is coordinating a holiday dessert feast tonight from 6-8:30 p.m. in the Fine Arts Hall lobby for the final class of the first cohort of the Pathways to Persistence Scholars Program. Dr. Sasser will congratulate the students on their success, and then the remainder of the class will consist of the students giving their life goals presentations, going over a review and plans for spring, a slideshow, and enjoying holiday and inspirational music.
Long said the retention rate for the 32 people enrolled in the program — GED holders in their first semester of college — was 85 percent. For this demographic at Santa Fe, only 40 percent typically make it through their first semester and enroll in a second. (The retention rate for all of our students is 78 percent.)
The scholars all took College Success together with Long as their instructor. Long’s research has uncovered five principles that help improve student retention: fondness for the institution, friendships among participants, fun, freedom to fail, and functional (click here for a more detailed description).
In addition to her work at Santa Fe, Long has made connections with members of the Obama administration and has participated in several state and national brainstorming sessions on Hispanic retention issues. The most recent was a White House summit meeting hosted at Miami-Dade College on Dec. 2. Long led a session on retention and nontraditional student populations. [See a video.] Long hopes the work she is doing at Santa Fe will eventually be replicated at other institutions.
“Jose Rico, the executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, invited me and a group of Pathways scholars to meet with him in the spring,” said Long. “During the trip to DC in May, we will also be meeting with Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Education and speaking to White House officials on the success of our program at Santa Fe.”
Currently, one out of every seven Americans has a GED, and one out of 20 college students has a GED. From her research, Long said she found 54 percent of all GED students who enter college drop out after their first semester.
For more information about Long’s work, please see this blog post written by Ricki Vann Albritton, a UF journalism student.