Mission incomplete at Kentucky State University

Graduation rate is unacceptable

Published:

SheNique Jackson left Kentucky State University after just one semester. She told reporter Ryan Quinn she felt the university was disorganized and stated she received little counseling from advisers.

Unfortunately, she is not alone.

According to statistics Quinn gathered for his story in Sunday’s State Journal, Kentucky State is doing a dismal job of graduating students both in four years and the more preferred method of evaluating those rates using a six-year timeframe.

We were also struck by another thing Jackson said.

“K-State’s degree is basically the same as a community college degree,” she said.

If that is the case, then perhaps state officials should consider making Kentucky State a part of the commonwealth’s community college system.

Because right now, the state is spending a lot of taxpayer dollars on a school that is not fulfilling its mission, nor retaining and graduating enough of its students.

Just 10 years ago, KSU had a 6-year graduation rate of 41 percent. Now, that figure has plummeted to 14 percent.

Kentucky State is one of about 100 Historically Black Colleges and Universities, defined as schools established before 1964 “whose principal mission was, and is, the education of black Americans.”

KSU is still viewed as a university for black students, but in fact only about half (53 percent) of its students today are black while 22 percent are white.

When looking at KSU in comparison to the other Kentucky colleges, its graduation rate is far lower than any other public institution of higher learning, the next lowest being Northern Kentucky University at 37 percent.

In a ranking of the 85 HBCUs comparable to Kentucky State, the school ranks 78th in terms of 6-year graduation rates.

These figures should be acceptable to no one.

University officials are quick to tick off a variety of reasons for their failures, one being that they accept many students with inferior academic credentials compared to Kentucky’s other universities.

About 85 percent of entering freshman at Kentucky State need at least one developmental education course, and, said university president Mary Sias, more than a third need two or three such classes.

Obviously this is an admissions problem, and university officials said that while recent incoming classes had an average ACT score of 19 and high school GPA of 2.43, the class that enrolled last fall had an average ACT of 21 and GPA of 2.68.

This is encouraging because we are not about to suggest KSU should have been “dumbing down” its curriculum. It should have all along been working to attract bright, motivated, hard-working students.

The university has been approved to begin a doctoral program in nursing, which we think will be a fantastic addition to the degrees it offers.

But we also think state officials should closely monitor Kentucky State because its mission of years ago does not appear to be its mission of today.

Foremost, its mission needs to be clearly defined. But whatever that mission may be, surely retaining and graduating students must be a vital component.

As we see it, Kentucky State is not currently doing a good job in that regard.

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  • Try using a subject AND a verb in your sentences, tp. It would help make your case. Also, your last sentence is just plain incorrect. Many people there know a few things. Some people there know a LOT of things.

     

  • worst university. disorganized. I'm current student at KSU. Every person works there they don't know anything. 

  • Actually, I was in the US army in a place called"Graf", located in Germany, watching the Russians watch me watch them. You know, real Commies not wanna be's.  Any tanker can tell you about it. And the company I work for is in the good 'ole USA.

  • "I am now paying student loans to pay off my time at K state and I resent it."

    I'd imagine you could substitute ANY college/university name in that line and it'd still be true. No one likes to pay bills. Student loans follow you for years, and I'm told even bankruptcy won't absolve you. (ref. http://www.ecmc.org/details/bankruptcyStudentLoans.html)

     

  • As a former student of this university I would like to comment.  I am now paying student loans to pay off my time at K state and I resent it.  K state not only did little to prepare me to be a professional they also specialized in neglecting me.  My advisor could have cared less about me and had no answers when I asked why the classes I needed next semester werent even being offered.  This school is very unorganized and poorly ran.  If there was a way to get out of paying my loans by litigation I would gladly take it as I'm sure many other students would.  Any lawyers in the house?

  • n4s: "From Homers Dictionary.dum   Racist:  1. Anyone who criticises Barrack Obama,KSU,Or the behavior of children or young people who are not white.

    2. Anyone who disagrees with any of his/her statements regarding the above."

    That is absolute BS...if you have a substantive criticism of the President, KSU or kids of color, make it.  So far, I have never seen an actual substantive argument that you have made, just vague nefarious and often thinly veiled racist comments.  I have begged you to logically deconstruct any thing that I have said on here, and you've got nothing.  So far, your contribution in this thread has been the above sentence and this:

    n4s: "No sense in argueing with Homer. He can't see or smell due to the location of his head."

     

    How can anyone take you seriously if all that you have to offer are trite platitudes?  Surely you can communicate on a higher plane than that...you work for a respected engineering firm in Canada and have been in the German Army!

     

  • From Homers Dictionary.dum   Racist:  1. Anyone who criticises Barrack Obama,KSU,Or the behavior of children or young people who are not white.

    2. Anyone who disagrees with any of his/her statements regarding the above.

    "n4s, so far you haven't had an argument as you have offered no proof of your racist biases calling those at KSU "druggin, thuggin' and thievin" kids.  You have not logically deconstructed any of the facts that I have presented, choosing to ignore them."

    Really? You must not be reading the same paper that I am.

  • From Dictionary.com

    rathole n. 
    a bottomless pit. (Typically with throw and down as in the examples.) :  Why do they keep throwing moneydown that rathole?

    From now on I'll say "bottomless pit", and when a couple of those lawsuits get settled or go to court we'll see why.

    And this "Because right now, the state is spending a lot of taxpayer dollars on a school that is not fulfilling its mission, nor retaining and graduating enough of its students." came from the SJ editorial. I just said AMEN!

  • n4s, so far you haven't had an argument as you have offered no proof of your racist biases calling those at KSU "druggin, thuggin' and thievin" kids.  You have not logically deconstructed any of the facts that I have presented, choosing to ignore them.

  • 38106: "Because right now, the state is spending a lot of taxpayer dollars on a school that is not fulfilling its mission, nor retaining and graduating enough of its students."

    Prove any of it with facts.  

    38106: "This rathole will only suck more $$$..."

    Your referring to KSU as a "rathole" is proof enough of what I am saying about your racists bias. 

  • No sense in argueing with Homer. He can't see or smell due to the location of his head.

  • "If that is the case, then perhaps state officials should consider making Kentucky State a part of the commonwealth’s community college system.

    Because right now, the state is spending a lot of taxpayer dollars on a school that is not fulfilling its mission, nor retaining and graduating enough of its students."

    Amen and Amen. As my dear friend Homosapien will attest, I've been advocating that for a while.

    Add to this the huge unpaid debt, the potential for significant legal settlements over the police chief firing/hiring and the firing of Ms. Thomas, the ACT debacle back in October (could still resurface), the firing and lawsuit by Dr. Benson. This rathole will only suck more $$$, and a lot of it won't be going to educate anyone, "big city northern blacks" or local commuters.

  • With all respect a KSU degree is far from a community college degree. Those that I know who did graduate from Kstate are obviously well educated, on or beyond a level that they would have got at any other state school. The faculty and staff is represented by caring professionals (such as the dismissed L Elsie Thomas) who work hard to help the students. Unfortunately, those people that carried the school to the heights of six years ago are abandoning the SS Sias or being fired, and the years of their experience cannot be replaced, no matter how much money you pay the new replacements. It's my hunch that those replacements even know the truth and see the handwriting on the wall and those that can will soon abandon the SS Sias for more fertile ground that they can plumage. I am afraid that this cat will not be put back into the bag because perception tends to become reality. That is the danger in continuing along the same path that Kstate's administration has be going over the past years. I have said before that students will eventually vote with there tuition dollars, and the current perceptions, true or false, will never be reversed by the current KSU administrators. We may never know what really has caused this mess, but most well run organizations would soon realize that a change of course is due when you spot the iceburg, not after you have hit it. it appears that the SS Sias has pretty much parked into the iceberg. Some would have you believe that the mess is caused by the economy and the lack of funds for students. It should be clear that Kstate does not and never has had a monopoly of poor students. They are everywhere, and especially at other black schools.whether black or white 95 percent of Kstae students don't graduate in 4 years, and only 1 out of 10 will ever graduate. Kstate is not different than many black colleges and they should be held to the same standards as those schools many that have far less money then KSU. Ask yourself if the KSU leaders was a surgeon would you trust him to operate on you. 

  • Blah, blah, wolf, wolf!  "According to statistics Quinn gathered for his story in Sunday’s State Journal" ...you call interviewing a couple of students that he ran into while walking around up there "gathering statistics"?  Really?  Anecdotal evidence is a still a stretch for this...

    And then you get down to the meat of the matter with, " ...perhaps state officials should consider making Kentucky State a part of the commonwealth’s community college system" and what, get rid of all of those big city northern blacks out of our sleepy little town? 

    Nice work, Mr. Editor...and perhaps you should consider going back to slopping whatever it is that you guys refer to as "bar-b-que" onto paper plates for city folks. You obviously cannot even figure out what KSU's mission is, much less that the problem with retention and graduation rates for poor students nationwide (that are just like those attending KSU with 92% on full financial aid) regardless of race, is the economy.  KSU is still 5% higher than the national average in this respect.  

    "NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- It's getting more difficult for low-income students to climb the economic ladder as the college
    graduation gap between the rich and poor grows.  While more students from all backgrounds are finishing college, the difference in graduation rates between the top and bottom income groups has widened by nearly 50% over two decades.  And since education is a key driver of upward mobility, this gulf means that it's even harder for the poor to prosper.

    Some 54% of students from wealthy families obtained bachelor's degrees, said Martha Bailey, an assistant economics
    professor at the University of Michigan. But only 9% of low-income students got college diplomas.  Bailey recently co-authored a paper looking at students who graduated in the late 1990s and early 2000s and compared them to those in college two decades before. She found the wealthy made great gains in graduation rates, while the poor only inched up over that time period. In the earlier group, 36% of the upper-income children graduated college and 5% of the poor did.

    Part of the reason is because more students from households earning at least $87,000 annually are going onto higher education. But children from families making less than $26,000 have not made the same advances, said Bailey.

    5 colleges slashing tuition

    And while two-thirds of freshmen from wealthier households finish, only one-third of their poorer classmates do.
    Other researchers, whose work has found similar discrepancies, have looked into why children from low-income
    backgrounds don't make it through college.

    One reason is the poor often go to lower-tier schools, said Tim Smeeding, the director for the Institute for Research on
    Poverty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. These institutions often have bigger classes and offer less individual
    attention and guidance.  Also, their parents don't have the financial means to aid their children.
    "We've got a problem in that we get low-income kids to college, but they don't persist to graduation," Smeeding said. "It's
    harder for them to find their way through. They get discouraged and they drop out."

    Failing to get a college degree makes it even harder for these individuals to escape the bottom of the income barrel.
    Some 41% of students who come from families in the lowest income ranks move up to the highest two rungs if they get a
    college degree, according to research from the Pew Economic Mobility Project. But if they don't, only 14% advance that far.
    At the same time, 45% of those without a diploma stay stuck in the lowest tier, while only 16% of their counterparts with a college degree do.
    That's because so many better-paying jobs today require more education and skills that workers can only get in
    college. Without a bachelor's degree, many people get stuck in dead-end jobs earning low wages.
    In fact, a college graduate working full-time for 40 years will earn $1 million more than someone with just a high school
    degree, according to recent Census Bureau data.

    This is why it's increasingly important for policy makers to promote and protect programs that help students, particularly
    those from the lower income rungs, to attend and complete college, experts said. This includes expanding tuition
    assistance for poorer children to give them a better shot at future financial security.
    "The chance for upward mobility from the bottom without a college degree is extremely limited," said Erin Currier, project
    manager at Pew. "There is a significant wage premium for having a college degree."

     

    KSU isn't the only school having trouble keeping these poor kids from very disadvantaged backgrounds in school long enough to graduate...but it is one of the few schools that caters to this special ed students.  And THAT is commendable, graduation rates be darned!   All HBCU's are not created equal, as anyone who has seen Spike Lee's "School Daze" can attest to, which was based in part on Spike Lee's experiences at Atlanta's Morehouse College, Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University.