Enrichment Education

Black students more likely to be balancing life responsibilities beyond coursework: Gallup

These demands have led nearly half of Black students with personal responsibilities to consider stopping coursework.
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Story at a glance

  • Twenty-two percent of Black college students report being caregivers compared with 11 percent of other students. 

  • Forty-six percent of Black students have considered stopping their course work within the past six months.

  • Students underscored the importance of more flexibility in schedules and course delivery as key factors to maintain enrollment in programs.

More than one third of Black students pursuing a bachelor’s degree have major life responsibilities outside of their classwork that compete for their time, energy and attention, according to a new study carried out by Gallup and the Lumina Foundation.

These competing responsibilities have led 46 percent of Black students to consider stopping their coursework within the past six months.

More than 20 percent of Black students said they’re caregivers, compared with just 11 percent of other students. Twenty percent of Black students also have a full-time job, compared with 11 percent of other respondents.

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The results highlight challenges many Black bachelor’s students face when attempting to balance their studies with other life obligations.

Black students also have lower six-year completion rates for any type of degree or certificate compared with students in other racial and ethnic groups, thanks to barriers like high financial cost and racial discrimination, according to the report. 

Of the 22 percent of Black students who are caregivers, 15 percent care for adult family members and 11 percent are parents or guardians for children. 

According to respondents, several steps could be taken to help Black students stay in school.

“A majority of Black bachelor’s students (59 [percent]) say greater flexibility in their work or personal schedule is very important to remaining enrolled, vs. 37 [percent] of other students. Almost half of Black students (47 [percent]) say flexibility in course delivery — including remote learning options — is very important, vs. 29 [percent] of other students,” report authors wrote.

Black students also stressed the importance of financial aid or scholarships, commitment to finishing the program as fast as possible and support from a school counselor or mental health professional, among other factors.

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