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Success For Native Americans

The College’s outreach program to Native Americans was the subject of a laudatory story in the Farmington, New Mexico Daily News last Friday. Some excerpts:

FARMINGTON — Ask some of the highest achieving Navajo students where they want to go to college and a good number of them will say, “Dartmouth.”

Dartmouth, located more than 2,300 miles away from the Navajo Nation, costs about $50,000 a year to attend. It admits only about 1,000 students a year and is one of eight colleges in the country classified as “Ivy League.”

It’s no coincidence that, of all the well thought of institutions in the country, they say Dartmouth…

The college has more Native American undergraduates than all the other Ivy League schools’ Native American student populations combined. It admits about 40 Native American students per year.

“One of the main reasons I came here was the Native American studies major,” said Preston Wells, a senior at Dartmouth. “It’s the only (Native American studies) major in the Ivy League, and it’s the best in the nation.”…

The college’s fly-in program is an effective promotional tool, students and faculty said. The program pays for a three-day visit for many Native American students’ considering enrolling. They receive a complimentary round-trip flight, and often free lodging and meals.

“Dartmouth gets them here, and then they see it, and they want to go here,” Wells said. And they see all of the comforts it has to offer. Not only do they offer a wealth of classes in Native American studies, they also have a program that has activities and support primarily for Native American students.

Wells is even trying to start a branch of Phi Sigma Nu, a Native American fraternity that has various branches across the country, most of them on the East Coast.
The school already has a Native American sorority on campus.

Kudos to the administration and the Admissions department for building a reputation among people who might never have thought of Dartmouth — or perhaps even college — otherwise. In fact, the number of Native Americans at the College has increased over the past decade, as has the number of people of color of all groups:

Native American Enrollment3.jpg

The number of Native Americans is up 29.2%; African Americans 29.7%; Asian Americans 35.6%; Hispanic students 20.5%; International students 54.6%; and the number of white students has fallen by 11.4%. Over the same time period, the total number of undergraduates has increased by 2.3%.

However, according to statistics reported to the NCAA by the College, the six-year graduation rate for Native Americans varies between 77-83% for classes who entered the College between 1999 and 2005. Below are the six-year graduation figures for all students matriculating at Dartmouth in the 2005-2006 academic year.

NCAA Graduation Rate.jpg

The College could do better in this area.

Addendum: Regular readers will be wondering at this point how severely the phenomenon of mismatch applies to Native Americans at the College. Regrettably Dartmouth provides no data on the success that these students have in meeting their educational goals, especially in demanding areas like pre-med courses and the sciences.

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