LV community college is top choice for minorities
LAS VEGAS – Community College of Southern Nevada student Claritssa Sanchez is well on her way to becoming a high school history teacher.
Graduating this December with her associate’s degree, the 19-year-old Millennium Scholar plans to transfer to UNLV for the spring semester.
As the state’s most diverse institution, CCSN Chief Richard Carpenter said it’s essential that the college do more to help students such as Sanchez navigate their way through the system.
“Community colleges are the front door to the universities for many minority students,” Carpenter said, noting that national studies have shown that about one-third of all minorities who receive four-year degrees begin their higher education at a community college.
More than half of all of the minority students enrolled in any of Nevada’s higher education institutions are attending the Community College of Southern Nevada, according to enrollment data from the state’s university system.
Minorities – Hispanics, Asians, blacks, American Indians and native Hawaiians – represent about 40 percent of CCSN’s known student body. Minorities make up about 30 percent of the student bodies of UNLV and Nevada State College at Henderson, according to preliminary enrollment data for fall 2004.
“I think what you are seeing here is that the demographics of the community are changing radically and dramatically,” said Carpenter, who has held the reins at the college for about three months.
“It’s going to change even more in the next five years and we’ve got to accommodate that, particularly the growth among minorities,” Carpenter said. “I’m not sure what we’ve done to address those specific needs.”
Carpenter said he’s not surprised that there is a greater population of minorities at CCSN than at the other institutions, but he says that increases the need to serve those students well.
The very nature of a community college, with its lower tuition, more flexible classes, and its focus on helping students transition from high school to college is often attractive to minority students who often are more likely to have work and family obligations competing for their time, Carpenter said.