Framing the Core Issue 7 these demographics may experience success or retention issues. In 2015, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), more than 75 percent of undergraduates were what is referred to as nontradi- tional students. Nontraditional students are defined as those who are over 25, work part-time or full-time, are married or divorced, or have kids (Labi 2015). According to Aisha Labi at the Lumina Foundation, “these students are especially vulnerable to the derailment of their educational trajectory” (2015). The six-year rate of college attainment differs for differ- ent populations. The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center (NSCRC) finds a variety of reasons for completion rates in higher educa- tion depending on the originating institution and other factors, including a discrepancy based on age. Race remains a factor impeding student success. In the Atlantic article “Higher Education Should Lead the Efforts to Reverse Structural Racism” (2020), authors and experts Freeman A. Hrabowski III, Peter H. Henderson, and J. Kathleen Tracy make the case that colleges and higher education in general have a responsibility to tackle structural racism and assist students in achieving their goals and dreams. They write: “We in this field have an obligation to engage in this work, because we have become more central than ever to our students’ American dreams. We hold out to our students the promises of an enriched life and social mobility, and yet we often fall short in providing these to all who arrive on our campuses.” Structural racism is evidenced by data that show demographic discrepan- cies in the six-year graduation rate. According to Hrabowski, Henderson, and Tracy (2020) the total average of students in higher education has a 60 percent six-year graduation rate, whereas Black students have a 40 percent six-year graduation rate. Later in the book, we discuss how the University of Maryland created new programs that attempted to increase retention and graduation among Black students. These included shared experiences and opportunities that library workers could re-create on their campuses. The programs ranged from community book reads to short courses on how to navigate college. Hrabowski, Henderson, and Tracy reiterate, “These provide students with a sense of belonging, agency, and efficacy, along with tools they need to be successful.” Mattering and belonging are key issues for at- promise students, and this book touches on those issues throughout. The Meyerhoff Scholars Program at the University of Maryland–Baltimore County is highlighted as a successful program. The goal is to support students in obtaining advanced degrees. The program managers use collaboration across units to support students. Within the program, they work to ensure that stu- dents meet high expectations, to connect them to peers and others at the institution, and to bring the students into the research landscape. In sum, it is the responsibility of higher education institutions not only to set the stage
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