Harvard Leads Nation in Black Graduation
A recent study found that Harvard has the highest graduation rate for black students in the nation, at 94 percent.
About 94 percent of all black first-year students at Harvard graduate with earn their diploma within six years.
The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education reported that only four other universities in the country also have rates above 90 percent. Those institutions are Vassar College, Amherst College, Princeton University, and Williams College, in that order.
"The main credit for our very high graduation rates of our African American students goes to the talents and energies of the students themselves," Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis '68 wrote in an e-mail message. "They should take pride in their academic success here, because they are the ones mainly responsible for it."
According to Lewis, the graduation rates at Harvard vary little across races, genders or areas of study. Lewis gives credit to Harvard institutions such as the tutor system and Bureau of Study Counsel for providing support for students in general, but not for one race in particular.
At 97 percent, Harvard's graduation rate for all students is one of the highest in the nation.
Robert B. Slater, managing editor for the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, said the high rate can be attributed to Harvard's generous financial aid system and large endowment.
"The availability of financial aid is always a key factor in obtaining a high black student graduation rate," he said.
Lewis also credited the Undergraduate Admissions Office for choosing a talented group of students.
"It goes to tremendous efforts to identify the most talented minority students across the country, to admit the best students and then to recruit those who have been admitted," he said.
Aaliyah N. Williams '02, president of the Black Students Association, expressed a similar opinion.
"I think this speaks to the level of students that Harvard chooses. Harvard does a good job every year of choosing the best students, regardless of race," she said.
But she also said that the purpose and implications of a study like this are unclear.
"I think placing standards on a group simply because of race and then being surprised at the conclusion is ridiculous. Harvard is certainly going to have a high graduation rate for all students, but I don't think this study gives any insight to what the University is doing right, in particular," she said.