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Public Colleges Lead The Way Supporting Diverse Students

Wherever you look in higher education, you see evidence that public colleges are not only the best value for a dollar, but also leaders in overall results.

Overall, public colleges are the least expensive, most accessible, and provide the most value – whether for full degree programs, or for non-degree certificates.

Now a new poll by Gallup and the Lumina Foundation shows another way that public colleges are best in class: in their efforts to be welcoming and non-discriminatory.  

According to the poll, 34% of Black students at private for-profit colleges – that’s one in three – report experiencing discrimination frequently or occasionally. At private non-profit colleges, 23% of Black students report the same. But at public colleges and universities, only 16% do.

Sixteen percent is still too high – we’re aiming for zero – but it shows that public institutions are far more successful in creating welcoming and inclusive school communities. That’s significant, because according to the survey discrimination is one of the top obstacles students of color face to succeeding in higher education.

Better Support For Working Students

The survey says that the other significant issue that Black students report facing when pursuing higher education is that they are more likely to have additional responsibilities beyond college. The survey found that 36% of Black students in bachelor’s degree programs have full-time jobs or provide care to family members – double the average of other students.

The struggle between competing responsibilities has led nearly half of Black students to consider dropping out of school in the past six months, the study found.  

Once again, here is an area where public colleges and universities are solving problems. Studies show that public education institutions (especially low-cost ones, like community colleges) are the most effective at helping students achieve their goals

Calbright, in particular, is a free public community college that uses Competency-Based Education – a model that allows students to schedule their college classes around their lives, instead of forcing them to schedule their lives around college. Students can slow down their studies when they need to focus on their other responsibilities, and study more when they have the time. 

Together, this is powerful evidence that public colleges and universities are not just the biggest and most impactful kind of higher education – they’re also the most innovative. We’re reaching more students, more kinds of students, and breaking down the barriers they face to getting the education they need.

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