Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Status Quo of Underachievement Must Go

Howard University remains one of the highest performing HBCUs

By Shanon D. Murray

While some Historically Black Colleges and Universities prefer to continue with the status quo of underachievement, top-tier HBCUs such as Howard University instead have opted to invest in their future by making the hard decisions and likely painful cuts to remain relevant, competitive and effective.

With a 69 percent graduation rate (which is higher than the national graduation rate for all students), a 4 percent student loan default rate (which is nearly half of the national rate), and a bevy of other positive metrics, the iconic Washington, D.C.-based private HBCU is, as usual, modeling best practices for its fellow HBCUs.

Undeterred, Howard has decided to be proactive, while flatly refusing to sacrifice its future to settle for the status quo. Meanwhile, there are other HBCUs that prefer to remain under the radar -- far from accountability -- hoping that no one will call attention to the damage they are causing students by having ridiculously low graduation rates and exorbitant student loan default rates, among other issues.

In my previous articles on HBCUs, I have focused on 20 schools – 10 private and 10 public – that have the highest student loan default rates in the country, as well as graduation rates (except one) that fall below the national graduation rate for Black students.

I have narrowed that list of 20 to a short list of six schools that demand our immediate attention. The list includes private HBCUs Edward Waters College, Huston-Tillotson University, Jarvis Christian College, and Talladega College; and public schools Central State University and Texas Southern University.

Why these six schools? What each of them has in common are graduation rates below 25 percent and student loan default rates above 17 percent. The problem with these schools is that they are graduating just 10 to 20 percent of its students, while these same students are hampered by exorbitantly high student loan default rates ranging from double to quadruple the national rate.

Click to read more of “Right of Black” co-host Shanon D. Murray’s column on

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