The problem: Too many of us aren’t making it to graduation with a bachelor’s degree.

The solution: NSBE’s Retention Program

Have you ever heard this prophecy from a college professor? “Look to your left, and look to your right. Two of you will not be here by graduation.” Much like many of you, I was determined not to be one of those two dropouts. Seriously, who decides at the start of the year that they want to flunk out? Although some believe students fail in engineering because of their lack of capability or potential to succeed, the dropouts themselves often point to an unwelcoming learning environment that discourages rather than motivates... But, I digress. The tragedy is that, even today, many institutions fail to do anything about their high rates of attrition.

We (by “we,” I mean black engineering students) have fallen into the dropout category too often. The graph below, from the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME) shows that less than one-third of African Americans who entered engineering, computer science and engineering technology programs in 2003–04 actually received a bachelor’s degree in those fields in six years or fewer. A little more than 47 percent either dropped out or settled at the associate’s degree level.

 

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NSBE is doing something about this. The goal of the NSBE Retention Program is to improve the graduation rates of blacks in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). By creating collaborative learning environments to supplement the academic support provided by colleges and universities, the NSBE Retention Program aims to increase the number of black engineering students who earn bachelor’s degrees in engineering.

Of the four aspects of NSBE’s mission, the most important is academic excellence. Improving the academic performance captured by NACME’s graph requires the individual efforts of each of us at every NSBE chapter. To make a striking impact, we must make it together. Every chapter must work toward our common goal. When those incoming freshmen ask you about NSBE, it is up to you to share how NSBE will help them not just pass their classes but shine in them.

It is imperative that every collegiate chapter have a NSBE Retention Program. If your chapter is not yet part of the retention effort, now is the time! Tell your chapter president that you want to help fulfill NSBE’s mission and that to do so, your chapter must participate in the NSBE Retention Program.

Contact Jasmine Keene, NSBE’s national academic excellence chair, at nebaex@nsbe.org, for more information about how your chapter can participate in the movement.

Alumni, we need your support, too! We need you to get involved with the NSBE Jr. and collegiate chapters to promote academic excellence, by serving as tutors and otherwise developing the environment that breeds academic success!

NSBE family, this is the essence of our mission. Let’s accomplish that mission together.

 

Have you ever heard this prophecy from a college professor? “Look to your left, and look to your right. Two of you will not be here by graduation.” Much like many of you, I was determined not to be one of those two dropouts. Seriously, who decides at the start of the year that they want to flunk out? Although some believe students fail in engineering because of their lack of capability or potential to succeed, the dropouts themselves often point to an unwelcoming learning environment that discourages rather than motivates... But, I digress. The tragedy is that, even today, many institutions fail to do anything about their high rates of attrition.