Stress a Major Factor in College Dropout Rates for Black and Latino Students

A recent study discovered that Black and Latino students are at a higher risk of dropping out of postsecondary education compared to white students, despite a gradual increase in college enrollment since the pandemic.
The survey, conducted by Gallup and the Lumina Foundation, involved over 14,000 respondents in the fall of 2023. This included approximately 6,000 current college students, 5,000 former students, and 3,000 adults who never enrolled.
Reasons cited by Black and Latino students for considering leaving college included stress, mental health issues, and costs, with a notable difference of over 40 percent compared to white students.
Dr. Courtney Brown, Vice President of Impact and Planning at the Lumina Foundation, expressed concern over the prevalence of stress and mental health as the top concerns for Black and Latino students, emphasizing the need for institutions to address these challenges.
According to Brown, Black and Latino adults are increasingly opting for certificate and associate degree programs over traditional four-year colleges due to high costs and time constraints, prioritizing quicker entry into the workforce.
While community colleges with vocational programs have seen enrollment growth, those with transfer-focused programs have lagged behind, reflecting the shifting preferences of Black and Latino adults.
A key finding of the report is the higher likelihood of Black and Latino students leaving postsecondary programs compared to white students. Over 40 percent of Black and Latino students considered dropping out, slightly improving from 2022 but remaining higher than in previous years.
The study also identified emotional stress, mental health concerns, and financial burdens as common factors leading students to contemplate leaving college, with Black and Latino students particularly challenged by balancing coursework with work and family responsibilities.
Moreover, Black and Latino adults show a preference for certificate and associate degree pathways, with nearly 60% of unenrolled adults considering enrolling in such programs. Institutions are encouraged to provide support services like healthcare, mental health resources, and childcare facilities to assist these students in degree completion.
Financial aid and scholarships play a crucial role in motivating Black and Latino adults to pursue postsecondary education, with a higher percentage citing these factors as influential compared to white adults. Emergency aid is also deemed important for enrollment decisions.
Brown urged institutions to address the low attainment rates among Black and Latino students by improving support systems and advocating for better outcomes in postsecondary education.

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