Study finds more than half of Hispanic college students considered dropping out

New data shows a high number of Hispanic students not staying enrolled in college but NAU Yuma is using its resources to change that.
Published: Oct. 10, 2023 at 4:21 PM MST
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YUMA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — Colleges are seeing more Latino students enroll, but new data shows an alarming number of them are struggling to stay enrolled. A new study from Gallup found that 52% of Hispanic students considered dropping out or taking a break. Among the top reasons were emotional stress and mental health. The figure is up 10% from the first year of the pandemic.

Northern Arizona University Yuma campus saw a similar trend during the pandemic. Michael Sabath, the school’s dean, said 81% of their students are Hispanic. It’s a striking number compared to the nation’s average of 20%.

That’s why the Gallup poll numbers are concerning. He said NAU-Yuma is a Hispanic-serving institution, which means they prioritize access to education for Hispanics, but it’s still a challenge. “Supporting access to education. Degree persistence and completion within the Hispanic population. A high proportion are first generation,” he said.

Sabath said it can be challenging for students who are facing language and cultural barriers. He said they’ve put an emphasis on making sure students feel a sense of belonging. “The development of academic identity so they see themselves as belonging to the university and they have a future there and a career,” said Sabath.

The study also found the cost of education and child care responsibilities to be obstacles students are facing. Sabath said the university already has some resources available for those struggling financially. “We do provide child care, access to child care services and financial aid. We have a new program called A to E, Access2Excellence,” he said. The program helps low-income students.

The school is putting an added focus on those struggling mentally and emotionally with a new clinical mental health counseling program underway. Sabath said it will provide services to all enrolled students and the community as part of the education process.

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