Pre-college enrichment program serves disadvantaged AHANA students O.T.E. Retention Rate Tops 90 Percent

O.T.E. Retention Rate Tops 90 Percent

By Sean Smith
Staff Writer

Options Through Education, a pre-college enrichment program for educationally and financially disadvantaged AHANA students, has attained a 91 percent retention and graduation rate for the past six years, according to a recent report by the Office of AHANA Student Programs.

The study, compiled by AHANA Student Programs Associate Director Sheilah Shaw Horton, found that 227 of 249 OTE participants who have entered over the past six years have graduated or remain at Boston College. In addition, the report said, 184 of 201 - 91.5 percent - OTE students who have enrolled in the University during the past five years have earned, or are still pursuing, their degree.

OTE's graduation and retention rate for the past four years also is 91 percent, with 161 students entering BC and 147 of them completing or continuing their undergraduate studies.

Director of AHANA Student Program Donald Brown and Associate Director Sheilah Shaw Horton. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)
AHANA Student Programs administrators attribute OTE's continued success to its strong emphasis on academic achievement, the support of AHANA office staff, and the development of University resources such as the Mays Mentoring Program, which assist students in academic and personal matters.

As AHANA Student Programs Director Donald Brown pointed out, however, the students themselves ultimately determine their own fate.

"The retention rate among the OTE students lends credence to the message many of us express repeatedly: that for the most part, students rise to the level of expectations," Brown explained. "If we who are entrusted with educating them believe they can achieve, and if we can instill this belief in our students, they will come through with flying colors each time."

Brown pointed out that the retention and graduation figures for OTE students far exceed national averages. The graduation rate for all students in higher education after six years is 56 percent, he said, citing an American Council on Education report.

Emphasizing personal growth and development, the six-week summer OTE program provides students an introduction to the academic and social aspects of college life, Brown said. OTE balances a challenging curriculum comprising classes five days a week, six hours a day with support services and social activities. OTE participants are encouraged to strive for excellence throughout their undergraduate careers, he said, through academic advisement and progress reports.

Brown said faculty and staff have played a considerable role in OTE, which will observe its 20th anniversary next July. Their involvement in the Mays Program - which provides mentoring for AHANA students, including those in OTE - has "contributed immeasurably" to the high retention and graduation rates, he said.

"We now have more than 100 faculty and staff who are Mays Mentors," Brown said. "The response from the University community for this program has been very encouraging. Boston College is to be lauded for declaring that part of its mission is to make college education a reality for a select group of students who have been cheated educationally."

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