The pursuit of a college degree is certainly a large investment.
When students choose the college they wish to attend, the likelihood for full-time employment, in a variety of fields, is a possible factor in their decision making process. In a society that values education and conflates it with social mobility, we must be mindful of how a college education prepares the next generation to take full advantage of opportunities in the workforce. How do MSIs do this? MSI faculty and staff are committed to the art of teaching and mentoring.
Colleges and universities usually maintain a division of student life and a division of academic affairs. Each is devoted to supporting and caring for the social and academic well-being of students, respectively. At many MSIs, however, all aspects of the campus are charged with these responsibilities, making the process of supporting and caring for students a more holistic one. What does this mean?
In college, students may find themselves distracted by events and individuals that take them away from their goal of earning their degree. Sometimes these events (e.g. financial troubles) increase their risk of withdrawing from a course or dropping out of college altogether. Because MSIs — faculty and staff, and the activities, services, and curriculum they develop — are sensitive to the background of individuals from minority and low-income backgrounds, students can expect to be consistently encouraged and uplifted.
Faculty and staff work together and coordinate their efforts to make sure that students don’t fall through the cracks. In other words, students at MSIs will always have someone ensuring they have their physical and emotional needs addressed. MSIs can be an affirming space and provide a wide network of support for students who sometimes can’t see themselves beyond their current circumstances.
At the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions, we have found MSI students to be persevering, confident and selfless — a reflection of the support they receive from faculty and staff mentors. To succeed, young professionals must possess these key traits that will enable them to recognize the benefits of their education in the workforce.
Succeeding in the workforce not only takes a college degree, but the proper attitude and characteristics. Students who have chosen to attend one of the nation's many MSIs — Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, and Asian American, Native American, and Pacific Islander Serving Institutions — should find themselves well-prepared for life after college.
Thai-Huy Nguyen is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Pennsylvania. He also serves as a research assistant at the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions.