New program offers connection to improve male dropout rate
Editor’s Note: The following story has been updated to correctly differentiate between the PACE grant and the Rural Male Project.
UCC has launched two new programs to obtain and retain enrollment. One of these programs is a Rural Male Project led by Jacob Whisler, the Umpqua work based learning coordinator at UCC. The National Center for Education Statistics has been warning that male enrollment rates in higher education are decreasing and, additionally, enrolled males have a higher risk for dropping out than female classmates. The NCES study shows that the dropout rate of men (16-24 years-old) is also 1.8% higher than females of the same demographics.
Whisler is working with male students both at the college and in local high schools, making connections and introducing different pathways to pursue during college and after graduating. When the students come to campus, Whisler can truly start to help.
“There’s been a lot of research done in the past about 10 or so years on retention rates,” Whisler says, “Not only are males not signing up to go to college, but they’re not finishing at extremely high rates. The disparity between women and men finishing in colleges is very drastic.”
Whisler believes without a doubt that relationships and community are the key to help more male students stay in college. “There’s definitely science behind that as well as research that shows building relationships will help them stay in school,” Whisler says. Students who end up dropping out often feel a sense of loneliness. “It’s kind of my job as well to create these cohorts to get these students into a situation where they understand that ‘I do have a group; I do belong to a group and that’s pretty cool.’”
The second program is funded by The Ford Family Foundation. This grant is called Pathways to Advancement in Career Exploration, also known as the PACE grant, to fund the program. While Whisler’s Rural Male Project is geared toward male students, the PACE grant is for all students on campus that meet the requirements.
Whisler will also be promoting campus club engagement to students in the PACE grant: “The clubs here at UCC are awesome. We need to get more student involvement in them, but it will definitely be a collective [endeavor] between the students that are in our PACE program and the people who are already in clubs.”
First year students who join the PACE program can earn $500 by attending two short retention workshops and completing a math or writing class in their first two terms. The student would also have to attend a first-year experience class. If students have not completed the class, Whisler will pay for the class for students who are interested in the program.
The retention workshops can simply be attending a volleyball game and introducing oneself to one new person or looking over a student’s college pathway with Whisler. These retention workshops are geared to be hands on, skill building and helping spark connections. “I definitely don’t want to do any PowerPoint, sit down, talk to them for hours kind of thing,” Whisler says. “I want it to be interactive so that it’s something that they can take away from and they get motivated to do.”
The PACE grant and the TRiO program have a lot of similarities, but they are two separate programs that any student can enroll in for extra help.
In the meantime, Whisler advises students to get involved. “College is a very, very short window. A lot of students don’t understand that when they’re in it, but it goes really quick. Make the most of it by interacting and meeting new people and building relationships, you know? All of our courses here at UCC are going to be here long after the students here are gone,” Whisler says. “It’s about what legacy you leave at UCC that’s going to stick with you through the whole time. I think it’s really important to make sure that you build relationships and a long-lasting legacy here at UCC that you’ll remember forever.”
If interested they can contact Jacob Whisler at Jacob.Whisler@umpqua.edu or at his office in Educational Support Building, ESB, room 34.
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