restricted access Chapter 8: Tribal College Pathways
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107 c h a p t e r 8 Tribal College Pathways David Sanders (Oglala Sioux Tribe) Matthew Van Alstine Makomenaw (Grand Traverse Bay Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians) “Why don’t our students survive when they come to your universities?” (Taylor, 1999, p. 4). This was the question asked about Tribal College and Universities (TCUs) transfer students by a TCU president. The question posed back in 1999 is still important today. Since their inception in 1968 TCUs have been effective in educating postsecondary American Indian/Alaska Native (AIAN) students. The question for TCUs and those concerned with TCU success is what happens to the students who choose to transfer and attend a four-­ year mainstream institution . AIAN students in 2009–­ 10 represented 1.2% of degrees conferred for all associate’s degrees and 0.8 percent of all bachelor’s degrees conferred in the United States (U.S. Department of Education, 2012). What is not fully known is the success rate and pathways of TCU transfer to four-­ year degrees. The current study used descriptive quantitative data to examine the success and pathways of TCU transfer students through two cohorts of American Indian College Fund Full Circle scholarship recipients. Tribal College Purpose and History TCUs began to develop in the late 1960s, Navajo Community College being the first, with the belief that tribal nations should have a role in the education of their citizens (Dejong, 1993). TCUs have unique missions tied to their tribal nation’s culture, language, and history (Benham & Stein, 2003). While open to everyone, TCUs must have at least 51% enrollment of AIAN students to maintain federal funding. In order for TCUs to count students as American Indians, those students must be enrolled members of a federally recognized tribal nation. There are currently 37 TCUs, 35 of which are fully accredited. The 35 TCUs 108 D. Sanders and M. Van Alstine Makomenaw comprise the group of TCUs that are full members of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC), a support network for TCUs on a national level (AIHEC, 2016). Tribal College Transfer Data A limited amount of information is available on TCU transfer student success and pathways. Data from a 2011 cohort of 21 two-­ year TCUs showed an average transfer out rate of 13%, with the lowest TCU rate being 3% and the highest, 21% (National Center of Educational Statistics (NCES), 2016). It should be noted that six of the 21 two-­ year TCUs did not report any transfer out rates. In addition, a 2008 cohort of 13 four-­ year TCUs embodied an average transfer out rate of 20%, with the lowest TCU being 6% and the highest, 32% (NCES, 2016). Of the 13 four-­ year TCUs, nine did not report any information on transfer out rates. Of the 34 TCUs in the NCES, only 19 reported any information on transfer out rates. The challenge is that there is still a large amount of data missing on TCU transfer out rates. In comparison with the average transfer out rate of 13% for two-­ year TCUs and 20% for four-­ year TCUs, the average transfer out rates for community colleges in general for the cohort entering fall 2007 was 18.8%, and 17.8% for the cohort entering in fall 2010 (American Association of Community Colleges, 2015). The transfer out rates of TCUs and community colleges paint a certain picture and beg the question of why two-­ year TCUs have a lower transfer out rate. However, transfer out rates do not tell us the success rate of transfer students and what type of institutions transfer students attend. Some institutions, albeit very few, will post on their websites how many TCU students are enrolled, but do not post how many of the TCU transfer students graduate. There is a need and usefulness to understand the pathways and success of TCU transfer students at four-­year institutions. Transfer out data do not allow for an analysis of student level progress to postsecondary success. A Need for Accurate and Complete Data on TCUs The U.S. Department of Education launched the College Scorecard, designed to inform students and families about the value of degrees from various colleges and universities primarily based on cost, graduation rate, and employment. The College Scorecard is designed to assist students and families in making their college choice in an era of so many college options. The College Scorecard, however, does not consider transfer rates or bachelor degree completion for transfer students . Data and...


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