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Native American College Featured for Best Practices

A Native American run college was chosen as one of 32 schools in the country that gives the graduation of underrepresented and low income students top priority.
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Oglala Lakota College (OLC) in Kyle, South Dakota was recently featured in the case study Beating the Odds: What it Means and Why It’s Important, recently completed by HCM Strategists and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

A total of 32 colleges were cited in the study as “leading the way in helping students beat the odds.”

The study uncovered four necessary approaches to help postsecondary institutions improve student success, they are:

  • Helping students prepare for college
  • Focusing on retention through support systems
  • Finding new ways for students to access education
  • Demonstrating leadership in creating a culture of completion

OLC was chosen as a best practices school by the Institute for Higher Education Policy for its BEAMS initiative—Building Engagement and Attainment for Minority Students.

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The college reported a number of ways it is working to increase graduation rates including financial aid and a Virtual Campus initiative.

OLC waives tuition balances for Native American students upon graduation and is able to do so through donations.

To serve the large geographic area of the Pine Ridge and Cheyenne River Indian reservations, OLC is working on offering online distance learning programs for its upper division coursework to assist in on-time completion of its students.

In 2009, OLC gave out 133 certificates and degrees, that number was up 19 percent since 2000.

“If you think about what the entering class looks like on most campuses in America today it looks much more like America than it ever used to, but if you look at the graduating class it’s too often mostly white, mostly students from higher incomes and that’s something that we all need to change because that’s not the kind of country we want to have,” says Hilary Pennington, of the Gates Foundation in a video of the September 2010 conversations with the 32 colleges profiled in the study.