Miami Dade College and Florida International University are two of the most successful colleges in the country when it comes to graduating Latino students. A recent study by the group Excelencia in Education, found that in 2009-10 Miami Dade College awarded 5,893 associate degrees to Latinos and FIU awarded 3,918 bachelor’s degrees and 1,014 master’s degrees to Latinos.
The two institutions are working together to build a seamless pipeline for students who earn an associate degree at Miami Dade and then want to move on to earn a bachelor’s degree at FIU. Administrators from the colleges presented at the College Board’s “Prepárate: Educating Latinos for the Future of America” conference in Miami to explain their dual admission program and their work as partners.
Promising Miami Dade College students who are not admitted to FIU outright because of academic or capacity issues are invited into the dual degree program, and about 30 percent of those approached so far have chosen to participate . If they earn an associate degree within three years, they can move on to the university.
About 84 percent of students in the dual admission program require remedial courses. Their average high school GPA is about 2.8 and their math or verbal SAT scores average around 450 in each area, so they do require further coursework to be prepared for the university.
“The basic promise that the university makes in the letter is we’re not admitting you but if you go to community college and get the two-year degree, we’ll hold a seat for you,” said assistant professor Glenda Musoba.
To encourage the bond, orientation for the participating Miami Dade students is held at FIU. “There’s a lot of buy-in right away for students to feel they’re FIU students,” said Douglas Wartzok, the university’s provost and executive president. “We really try to build the affinity to FIU as they’re starting as Miami Dade students.”
Students are also issued FIU ID and library cards, so they can participate in campus activities. That stresses to students that “this is your home as well,” said FIU vice provost Elizabeth Bejar.
They also go through workshops at certain points on topics such as choosing a major with the help of a dual degree bridge advisor.
The program still is young and administrators are closely watching the results. Since 2006, 5,203 students have accepted the offer to participate and 141 of those participants have graduated from FIU. Most of the students joined the program recently, so long-term data is still needed to gage future success.