Colleges hope to enroll more Black men in Tennessee

Posted at 5:26 PM, Jun 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-03 22:23:37-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The price of going to college seems to constantly increase, which is why it was such big news last month when the state announced it's keeping tuition at public colleges and universities flat for next school year.

Education leaders said they hope the move will encourage a specific group to head to college and complete it.

Shanna Jackson, the president of Nashville State Community College, was one member of a statewide task force called the Black Male Success Initiative, looking at why Black men are far less likely to attend or graduate from college in Tennessee.

"What you see is an alarming decline in Black male enrollment over the past decade and then alarming signs of people who come to institutions who don't complete," Jackson said.

In fact, college officials said its three-year graduation rate is four times lower for Black men than it is for white men.

"When you look at that, you have to say why — it's not that Black men can't learn, I know that. I have two of my own. I've been around Black men all my life who are very intelligent, so sometimes you have to look at the circumstances," Jackson said.

In many instances, Jackson said Black students can feel like they're not connected to others on campus, especially when they don't see many others who look like them.

In addition to the statewide tuition freeze, Nashville State is hoping its work in focus groups and other direct conversations with Black students can help, focusing on showing what specific jobs or career fields are available, for a reliably stable future.