Black, Hispanic student enrollment increases

Cynthia Gomez

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Recent data from the Office of Institutional Research shows a significant increase in the enrollment of black and Hispanic students entering CSUN as first-time freshmen this term.

The data includes a table that shows the numeric and percentage terms of first-time freshman (FTF) enrollment at CSUN by ethnicity per fall semester from 1993 to 2007.

About 200 black students enrolled as FTF during the fall semester of 1993; this number has doubled by the fall of 2006 to 467 FTF black students. Significantly, that number has increased to 618 FTF black students, roughly a 32 percent increase in the fall semester of 2007.

The enrollment percentage of black students as FTF has been stable, ranging from 11 percent to 13 percent since 1993. The percentage increased to 15 percent during the fall 2007 semester, one of the first major enrollment increases among FTF black students, the CSUN Office of Institutional Research indicates.

However, the number of minority students enrolling as FTF continues to increase among Hispanic students rather than FTF black students.

“In absolute numbers I think your greatest growth was still among Latino students,” said Bettina J. Huber, director of the CSUN Office of Institutional Research. “But they’re the largest group so that is what you would expect.”

During the fall semester 1993, 562 Hispanic students were enrolled as FTF. The number increased to an enrollment of 1,363 FTF Hispanic students during the fall 2006, however the number increased to 1,465 students in fall 2007, a percentage increase of 7 percent and a numerical increase of 102 FTF Hispanic students. The percentage of FTF Hispanic students has been stable over the last four years, ranging from 33 to 37 percent.

Huber said there was definitely an increase of FTF black students in percentage terms and the absolute number of Hispanic students enrolled as FTF did not increase as strongly as the absolute number of FTF black students in fall 2007, which was “clearly disproportionate.”

“Two years can be misleading,” Huber said. “But it looks like a real jump.”

Dr. Harry Hellenbrand, provost and vice president for academic affairs, said it is great to see more minority students entering the university and hopes CSUN encourages more minority students to enroll.

“(CSUN) has been growing by getting more minority students involved in higher education,” Hellenbrand said. “So if we make the decision not to accept people or not to grow, then we’re essentially making the decision not to accept minority students and I don’t think that’s the road we want to go down.”

Hellenbrand said it is because of programs such as the Educational Opportunity Program and Student Outreach and Recruitment Services that the university has seen an increase of minority students. The programs involve themselves in underrepresented communities and reach out to minority students.

“UC has really been trying to step up and increase their recruitment and we’re (CSU) doing far better than they are,” Hellenbrand said.

“I think students from all backgrounds particularly underrepresented students are getting the sense that Cal State Northridge is the right fit for them,” said Javier Hernandez, director of SOARS. “Our recruiters are going out to the community, to the schools, spreading the good world about the benefits of coming to Cal State Northridge.”

Hernandez said programs like EOP and SOARS have helped minority students while they are attending CSUN.

While EOP and SOARS have encouraged minority students to enroll at CSUN, Huber said to expect numbers and percentages of FTF enrollment among black and Hispanic students to be about the same during fall semester 2008.

“I expect them to be more or less the same because the size of the freshmen classroom would be more or less the same,” Huber said. “This (fall semester 2007), we had more first-time freshmen then we’ve ever had, but next year we’re looking for the same number and so that would suggest that the distribution would be more or less the same.”

Huber said the percentage of FTF black students might also decrease.

“African-American students have been between 11 and 13 percent,” Huber said. “So if it holds that increase is real, but it could drop back down again next year. And even if the increase, there’s no guarantee that next year it won’t be down again to 11 or 13 percent.”

Even if the number of FTF enrollment remains the same among black and Hispanic students next semester, Hellenbrand said it is one of many of the university’s concerns.

“Getting them in is not just the issue, it’s retaining them, making sure they graduate,” Hellenbrand said. “We have to make sure they graduate and do well while they are here.”