O.T.E. Retention Rate Tops 90 Percent

Services make the difference

By Mark Sullivan
Staff Writer

Students admitted to Boston College in recent years via Options Through Education - a pre-college enrichment program for educationally and financially disadvantaged AHANA students - continue to achieve academic success at a rate well above national norms.

A recent survey by the Office of AHANA Student Programs, which administers OTE, found that approximately 92 percent of 258 students accepted through the program in the last six years have maintained good academic standing or have graduated. The rate is 93.4 percent among 213 students entering in the past five years, the report said, and 94.5 percent among the 165 admitted in the past four years.

Administrators said the figures are encouraging in and of themselves, but particularly noteworthy in light of the American Council on Education Annual Status Report on Minorities in Higher Education. That report sets the graduation rate at 57 percent for all students in the American higher education system over a six-year period that ended last year; 65 percent for Asian-Americans, 59 percent for whites, 45 percent for Latinos, 38 percent for African-Americans and 37 percent for Native Americans.
AHANA Director Donald Brown with OTE staff (from left) Acting Associate AHANA Director Joana Maynard, Associate AHANA Director Sheilah Shaw Horton and AHANA Administrative Secretary Sydne Barker.

The OTE results compare favorably with those of a survey from two years ago, which also found the program's graduation and retention rates far exceeded the ACE averages.

"An array of support services makes all the difference in the world," said Director of AHANA Student Programs Donald Brown, referring to the mandatory tutorial and counseling support all OTE students receive throughout their BC careers. "I cannot think of any OTE student, over the past 18 years of the existence of the program, who is unemployed."

Boston College accepts approximately 40 students per year through the OTE program. The students selected demonstrate academic promise but have been hampered by a lack of strong preparation by their schools, program administrators said, and their talents and motivation to perform college-level work are not reflected in their Scholastic Aptitude Test scores.

Prior to their freshman year, OTE students attend a rigorous six-week summer program on campus, taking two college-level courses and following a day-long regimen of seminars and study sessions. During their undergraduate years, OTE students are required to sign up for counseling, tutorial sessions and other support services at the Thea Bowman AHANA Center.

"These are students who would not have been admitted to this university without this program," said Associate Director of AHANA Student Programs Sheilah Shaw Horton, who compiled the recent study of attrition and retention rates among OTE students. "These are students who didn't meet the requirements on paper.

"If you examine a transcript and look beyond what's on paper," she added, "and if you give them the support they need - support they didn't know existed, because it didn't exist at their high schools - you can see them through to graduation."

OTE students continue their success after BC, Brown said, whether in competitive graduate programs or the workforce. He described OTE as "a ministry of service offered by a highly committed and talented" AHANA staff.

"The vision to construct a support system came from God," Brown said. "For the resources that has made the program possible, and for the knowledge imparted to our students, this office owes the Boston College administration, the deans, and the faculty a profound debt of gratitude."

Return to March 27 menu

Return to Chronicle home page