'At Risk' Student Population
The Student Diversity Program since 1994 has evolved into a program that focuses attention
on students (university, high school, & elementary) from all cultural and ethnic backgrounds
who experience academic probation (less than 2.0 Grade Point Average, semester or cumulative),
socio-economic disadvantages, and educational difficulty. These students are considered
'at-risk.' Program achievement is evidenced by success or persistence rates of ninety (90)
percent and higher since the program's inception. On average you'd find, seven hundred and fifty (750)
'multicultural' university students, three hundred (300) African-American high school students,
and sixty (60) multicultural elementary school (predominantly Latino/Hispanic, English-as-a-Second
Language) students that are enrolled in SDP.
Most persons realize that the 'at-risk' student population is in jeopardy. A study
at CSUF revealed the Self-Efficacy, Self-Esteem, and Mastery were essential to improving
the 'at-risk' student population's graduation rates.
Self-Efficacy Theory states that self-efficacy expectations (beliefs about one's ability
to successfully perform a given task or behavior such as completion of a college program
of study) act as mediators of behavior and behavior change. Further studies reinforce the
hypothesis that self-efficacy beliefs are proportional to academic performance.
There is evidence to suggest that social class is a determinant of self-esteem. Social
class is a function of background characteristics, determined by birth, money, education,
and occupation. 'At-risk' students tend to emerge from the culture of poverty that contributes
to low self-esteem. Social classes removed from poverty status tend to demonstrate fewer
problems with self-esteem. A student's background variables contribute significantly to
the his/her perception of the college experience. This component of an individual's motivational
system is the self-esteem motive, which is the wish to think well of oneself. Without self-esteem,
one lacks satisfaction, confidence, and pride with oneself.
The psychological state of the student has a pronounced effect on attrition behavior. A
student who learns to cope with the experiences that college precipitates, will undergo
a psychological change that will improve his/her coping skills, resulting in improved chances
for academic success and graduation. Mastery of coping ability is crucial to a student's
acquisition of self-esteem and self-efficacy. Without mastery, one becomes reactive to their
environment with an accompanying lack of coping skills.