- 36% of Black bachelor’s degree students are caregivers, have full-time jobs
- Flexibility in schedule, course delivery is a factor in remaining in program
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- More than one in three Black bachelor’s degree students in the U.S. (36%) have major life responsibilities beyond their coursework, twice the rate for all other bachelor’s students (18%).
This figure includes Black learners with caregiving responsibilities (22%) and those with full-time jobs (20%) -- both roughly double the percentages for non-Black bachelor’s students.
The 22% of Black students with caregiving responsibilities includes 15% who are caregivers for adult family members or friends and 11% who are parents or guardians of children under the age of 18.
The latest Lumina-Gallup Student Study highlights the challenge many Black bachelor’s students face balancing their studies with other life obligations that compete for their time.
Nearly half of Black bachelor’s degree students with competing responsibilities (46%) say they have considered stopping their coursework in the past six months. This well exceeds the 34% of Black students without such obligations who have contemplated pausing their studies.
A similar gap exists for non-Black students with and without competing responsibilities. Black and non-Black students with competing responsibilities are about equally likely to say they have considered stopping their coursework. However, as noted, Black students are more likely than non-Black students to say they have competing responsibilities.
Black Bachelor’s Students More Likely to Say Flexibility Would Help Them Stay Enrolled
When asked about the importance of various factors in their ability to remain enrolled in school, Black bachelor’s degree students are more likely than other students to rate most as “very important.”
The considerations with the largest gaps in importance between Black and all other students include greater flexibility in their work or personal schedule and greater flexibility in course delivery. Both are rated as very important by larger proportions of Black than non-Black students, by 22 and 18 percentage points, respectively.
Black students are also more likely than non-Black students to say the following factors are key to remaining in their program:
- financial aid or scholarships
- commitment to finishing the program as quickly as possible
- increasing their personal income
- change in college, program or major
- support from a school counselor or mental health professional
Black students are slightly more likely than non-Black students to say that having confidence in the value of the degree or credential is very important to remaining in their program. No meaningful differences exist between the two groups in the importance of the encouragement they receive from others or their enjoyment of the program.
Among those with multiple responsibilities, Black students are more likely than non-Black students to rate work and personal schedule flexibility with utmost importance to staying enrolled -- though the two groups rate similarly on flexibility in course delivery.
But among those who do not have competing priorities, Black students are more likely than non-Black students to highly value work and personal schedule flexibility as well as course delivery.
Black bachelor’s degree students are more likely than all other students to be balancing their education with outside responsibilities that compete for their time, energy and attention. These students are significantly more likely than their counterparts who don’t have such obligations to be considering leaving their program.
Strategies for helping students stay enrolled while fulfilling other responsibilities may require schools to develop best practices in integrating flexibility for time and location of courses. Providing comprehensive student support services has proven to be effective in helping students with external priorities stay enrolled and succeed. These may range from on-campus child care access to advising that helps students manage scheduling and resource challenges, as well as counseling services to provide strategies for coping with the stress they may experience balancing multiple priorities.
Learn more about how the Lumina Foundation-Gallup State of Higher Education 2022 study works.