Rate of returning African-American sophomores reaches peak of 82 percent at TTU

Nearly 82 percent of all African-American students who entered Tennessee Tech University as freshmen last fall have chosen to continue their studies at the university this year.

That means that of the 61 African-American students who enrolled at TTU as beginning freshmen last fall, 50 of those students have returned to campus as sophomores this year.

At about 10 percent above what it was in 1999, it’s the highest rate for returning African-American sophomores the university has experienced in more than five years.

“The typical retention rate for African-American students — and all other TTU students — is around 70 percent,” said Jamie Mells, director of the university’s Minority Affairs office. “Nationally, that’s a normal average for institutions that are similar in size to ours.”

Mells attributes TTU’s high rate of retention, in part, to his department’s thriving partnerships with other university offices, including Admissions, Student Orientation, Athletics and the Counseling Center.

“Our highest priority in Minority Affairs is to let students and parents know that we are both sincere and dedicated to graduating our African-American students, and this peak in return in enrollment is a testimony to those efforts by our office and the entire university,” he said.

Such a high rate of African-American student retention, in fact, is more typical of institutions that have fully implemented “first-year programs” that encourage such results, Mells said.

“TTU’s challenge now will be to duplicate these results with the current class of African-American freshmen,” he said. “It will be interesting to see if we can standardize this success, but it’s my hope that TTU’s African-American population will continue to grow, in part, by increasing the retention rate of our students.”

There are currently 409 African-American students enrolled in both undergraduate and graduate programs at TTU.

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