In the United States 40 percent of black and Latino students who begin at four-year colleges and universities will graduate. A startling statistic? Yes. But it's one that New York's Stony Brook University is seeking to combat through a state funded program.
The university's Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) aids 600 low-income, minority students. It's a three-tier system that follows students throughout their undergrad, beginning with a five week "educational boot camp" the summer before their freshman year for students needing to catch up academically. The boot camp has two strict rules: no cell phones and mandatory four hour study sessions each night.
"Mandatory study hours, that was new to a lot of people, that you had to study," said Jose Gibson, an EOP participant and graduate of Stony Brook. "We would have a pair of our tutors patrolling the hallways, making sure that you were at your desk. In that four hours, you could not be sleeping, sitting, or even conversating."
The second tier of the program kicks-in if students begin to fall behind once regular classes begin. Free tutoring is provided to the students, as well as a mandatory six-week long study skills workshop for those in more serious academic need. Moreover, students are required to meet with a counselor four-times a semester--that's part three.
"We concentrate on the person, the whole person," said Dorothy Corbett, an EOP counselor. "Let's really look at and find out what is going to make you happy and successful as an adult."
EOP has been a success at Stony Brook, as it graduates 65 percent of its Latino students and 70 percent of it black students. Figures that far exceed any other public university in the country. But in a hard-hit economy, the school is trying to save EOP. Since 2008 New York State has cut funding for the program by nearly 17 percent.
"Students who come through the program are students who might not otherwise have the opportunity to go to college. Many of our students are not just first-generation college students, but we have many students who are first-generation Americans." --Cheryl Hamilton, EOP director
"College wasn't a big -- it wasn't in the plan at first. I didn't see it happening. I didn't think I was going to make it this far." --Jose Gibson, EOP graduate
"I work very hard to defend EOP. It should be part of our core mission, to fulfill this concept of the American dream. And if we don't have these kinds of examples, where people have been successful, then I think you're caught." --Dr. Samuel Stanley, president of Stony Brook University
1. How is college different than high school?
2. How do high school students prepare for college?
3. Why are some high school students prepared for college and some are not?
4. How might having parents who did not go to college affect a high school student's attitude toward college?
1. Why do you suppose the Educational Opportunity Program was implemented at Stony Brook University?
2. Do you think special programs should be offered to minorities? Why or why not?
3. Do you believe that some individuals are at a social disadvantage in the United States? If so, what can be done to combat this issue?
4. Have you or someone you know ever needed special assistance? Was it a positive or a negative experience?