SEM Summit 09 INCREASING ACCESSIBILTY: LESSONS LEARNED IN RETAINING SPECIAL POPULATION STUDENTS IN CANADA Susan Gottheil, Mount Royal College Clayton Smith, University of Windsor Gottheil/Smith 1 SEM Summit 09 Why This Topic? In Canada, changing demographics & increased

competition, as well as social values based on equity, have sharpened efforts to increase PSE participation rates of youth from under-represented/ under-served groups Provincial governments are funding a variety of targeted initiatives Holistic retention programs & planning are not well- developed at most institutions Access to and success in PSE has become an important public issue Gottheil/Smith 2 SEM Summit 09 The Political & Social Context

Gottheil/Smith 3 SEM Summit 09 Low-Income/First Generation Students One-half of students from low-income families dont continue past high school vs. one-quarter from highincome families (Baldwin & Parkin, 2007) 81% of 18 to 24 year olds whose parents have a university education participate in PSE, compared to 53% for young people whose parents didnt go past high school (CMSF) Both groups are disproportionately minorities, from rural areas, have less than optimal high school preparation or test scores

Gottheil/Smith 4 SEM Summit 09 First Generation Students (contd) NSSE (2008): About half not involved in extra curricular activities College Board: Less likely than peers to earn degrees, even when differences in high-school preparation taken into account Gottheil/Smith 5

SEM Summit 09 Aboriginal Canadians 1.3 million or 3.3% of the Canadian population 62% North American Indian, 30% Mtis, 5% Inuit In 2001, 14% of population in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, majority in Northwest Territories and Yukon 1,123 communities and close to a dozen language families More than 70% living off reserves (54% in cities) Much younger than Canadian population as a whole 1/3 under the age of 14 Fastest growing segment of Canadian population Gottheil/Smith 6

SEM Summit 09 Aboriginal Canadians (contd) Only 61% possess a high school diploma versus 78% of non-Aboriginal population By age 20, non-Aboriginal youth 3X more likely than Aboriginal youth to be in PSE (Baldwin & Parkin, 2007) Dropout and attrition 33-56% higher (depending upon age of student) than among general student population (Parkin & Baldwin, 2009) Gottheil/Smith 7 SEM Summit 09

Barriers to Access Financial Tuition, fees & cost of living Debt aversion Academic Low high school grades, wrong course prerequisites, high dropout rate Lack of preparation (hard & soft skills); quality of local high schools Gaps in training and certification Geographic Distance, costs of travel

Gottheil/Smith 8 SEM Summit 09 Barriers to Access (contd) Language & literacy Family & community: Lack of role models Note: Some ethnic groups have considerably higher educational aspirations for their children than others Enforced cultural assimilation and legacy of residential school system for Aboriginal students Gottheil/Smith

9 SEM Summit 09 Barriers to Access (contd) Aspirational Lack of interest/motivation PSE not considered necessary (for job, life) Lack of information about PSE benefits Self-esteem and self-confidence Institutional Programs dont respond to needs, interests Unknown environment Admission criteria and complexity of admission procedures Lack of information Counseling structure

Gottheil/Smith 10 SEM Summit 09 Attrition Factors Academic preparation and performance Contributes to lack of engagement, motivation Questioning of abilities, confidence Financial support Family and work responsibilities Language proficiency Gottheil/Smith 11

SEM Summit 09 Attrition Factors (contd) Low level of educational aspiration/motivation Well-being Isolation Stress Lack of understanding of culture, racist attitudes on campus Social/Family/Community support Engagement Gottheil/Smith 12 SEM Summit 09

Conclusion Web of barriers to access & success interact with & compound one another Unmet financial need Inadequate academic preparation, motivation & direction Insufficient information, guidance & encouragement Gottheil/Smith 13 SEM Summit 09

Lessons Learned: Increasing Retention within the SEM Framework Gottheil/Smith 14 SEM Summit 09 Lesson #1 Access and success should not be targeted in isolation: the barriers/obstacles are the same Placing too much emphasis on access can be problematic if it results in too little focus on student success Similarly, focusing primarily on policies which support

persistence could result in failure to meet access goals Remember the comprehensive SEM framework Essential tool to meet institutional goals Gottheil/Smith 15 SEM Summit 09 Lesson #2 Special population students have different needs from traditional students the funnel & student life cycle experience is different for different students Each group has unique needs Retention strategies need to be customized to meet

the needs of each special population group Gottheil/Smith 16 SEM Summit 09 Lesson #3 Theres a need for both specialized/targeted programs & integration of under-represented groups into regular programming The latter requires outreach, cultural sensitivity & awareness of specific historical, economic & social barriers faced by special populations We need to create connectivity between our FYE

programs & campus programs/services targeted to specific groups e.g., holistic first-year experience programs Importance of entire campus community working together to support under-served populations & make them feel part of our communities Gottheil/Smith 17 SEM Summit 09 Lesson #4 Need longer term resource commitment/strategies to have impact on both access and retention/student success

Need to work with communities, provide role models & mentorship opportunities, ensure adequate information Gottheil/Smith 18 SEM Summit 09 Lesson #5 Assessment is key but data is often difficult to come by Targeted communities sometimes are reluctant to self- identify - Makes it hard to set goals Difficult to assess what barriers may be and whether

targeted programs and initiatives are successful Gottheil/Smith 19 SEM Summit 09 Student Retention: Best Practice Strategies Gottheil/Smith 20 SEM Summit 09

Academic Programs Establish specialized academic programs/ courses Trent University: 1st Native Studies program in North America (1969) Lakehead University: honours program in Aboriginal Education University of Manitoba: Aboriginal Business program University of British Columbia: program in Aboriginal Forestry & Fisheries Confederation College: applied degree in Indigenous Leadership & Community Development

University of Winnipeg: Indigenous Police Preparation Diploma Gottheil/Smith 21 SEM Summit 09 Academic Programs (contd) Offer courses in communities Dual credit programming (Red River College with Peguis and Fisher River First Nations) Reserve seats in programs Ensures a cohort Provides peer support

Establish access programs Assists students who would not otherwise qualify for university with entrance into professional programs like engineering, nursing, social work, medicine Gottheil/Smith 22 SEM Summit 09 Academic Preparation Create summer camps, bridging & transition programs to help students overcome the academic, financial & motivational barriers to their success

Fisher River First Nation (Manitoba) implemented a 9-month transition program for all students who want band to fund PSE - Aim is to reduce drop-out rate - Course focuses on life skills, academic upgrading & career counseling - Students spend time in Winnipeg to prepare for transition to urban living Gottheil/Smith 23 SEM Summit 09 Bridging & Transition Programs Lethbridge College: First Nations, Mtis and Inuit

(FNMI) Transition Program - Provides 12 students with a $12,000 scholarship to aid with finances - Provides 3 steps to aid in transition Course on introduction to college life (August) Additional course in 1st term on skills and attitudes needed for college success Class on leadership skills (January) - Spiritual support from elders; help from mentors and advisors Gottheil/Smith 24 SEM Summit 09

Bridging & Transition Programs (contd) Centennial College offers first generation students summer workshops on time management and financial planning - Connects students with learning resource centre, tutoring, financial counseling and centre for students with disabilities Gottheil/Smith 25 SEM Summit 09 Community Partnerships School boards, churches, First Nations

LE,NONET program (Salish for success after many hardships) at University of Victoria Preparation seminar Peer mentoring Research apprenticeships Bursaries Community internships Cultural training for staff and faculty Gottheil/Smith 26 SEM Summit 09 Community Partnerships (contd) Westview Partnership: between York University and 22 public schools to encourage First Generation

students to attend PSE The Leadership Experience for Academic Directors (LEAD) program: joint effort of University of Windsor and Windsor-Essex Catholic School Board, connects at-risk students entering secondary school with 2 university student mentors U of Ts junior track team partnered with Toronto Community Housing to provide scholarships to housing project youth to practice on campus Gottheil/Smith 27 SEM Summit 09 Community Partnerships (contd) Pathways to Education project started in Torontos

Regent Park, now in 6 Canadian communities Tackles low ambition and low marks Provides mentors and tutors from Grade 9 on and $4,000 bursary on high school graduation (learning accounts) - Dropout rates fell from 23%-58% in different sites - Teen pregnancies and crime rate plummeted - College and university enrolment almost doubled 80% of graduates from Pathways original site in Regents Park have gone on to PSE (2009) Gottheil/Smith

28 SEM Summit 09 Community Outreach Build family/community support for attending PSE Work with church communities in low-income areas Place articles about programs, success stories in community & ethnic-based publications Create targeted web microsites - e.g., Carleton U for Aboriginal students Offer a family orientation program Gottheil/Smith

29 SEM Summit 09 Financial Aid Low-income students think they cant afford tuition & rule themselves out before graduating from high school Educate prospective students and their families on costs/benefits of PSE Simplify financial aid & make it more transparent Create financial aid workshops for families of middle & high school students to build expectations for attending PSE Gottheil/Smith

30 SEM Summit 09 Financial Aid (contd) On-campus work-study programs Shift institutional student aid to those with the greatest financial need (need-based bursaries vs. merit scholarships) Targeted aid/scholarships Gottheil/Smith 31 SEM Summit 09

Student & Academic Support Programs Create learning communities for peer support Foundations for Success project (funded by CMSF) offers casemanaged support services & financial incentives to students at 3 Ontario colleges (Seneca, Mohawk & Confederation) Assesses students after admission but before begin, identifying those that would benefit from academic tutoring, mentorship & career counselling The First Generation Program at Brock University provides both academic and personal support, which includes 1:1 help with school-related issues Gottheil/Smith 32

SEM Summit 09 Supportive Campus Environment Foster a welcoming campus climate to increase comfort, skills & connections among special population students & make campuses more receptive to traditionally underrepresented groups Establish lounges, centres, student space Gottheil/Smith 33 SEM Summit 09 Discussion, Comments & Questions

Gottheil/Smith 34

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