By Ariama C. Long
A recent report on the state of Black students in community colleges highlights a decline in enrollment since the pandemic and the everpresent inequitable policies that create barriers to higher education.
The report was published by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. Director of Workforce Policy at the Joint Center Dr. Alex Camardelle said that for many Black Americans community colleges hold the promise of getting a job and access to higher education. Camardelle is concerned that current policies are creating alarming racial disparities at these institutions.
“Black workers are struggling to make ends meet during this health and economic crisis. Community colleges provide a path forward to ensure workforce readiness for all, but there are barriers holding back Black students from reaching their full potential,” said Camardelle.
The report found that Black student enrollment at community colleges has steadily declined over time and has dropped during the COVID-19 pandemic. From fall 2019 to fall 2021, enrollment fell 18% for all Black students who also experienced the lowest graduation rates when compared to their peers.
“In fact, findings from a recent Joint Center report show that Black students at community colleges experience lower graduation rates and earn tens of thousands of dollars less after graduation, while having to take on more debt than their peers to pay for school,” said Camardelle. “But, it doesn’t have to be this way.”
Unfortunately, some of these enrollment trends are reflected in New York City’s institutions as well.