• Alaska Native Graduates of UAA: What Can They Tell Us?

      Erickson, Diane; Hirshberg, Diane (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2008-03)
      Alaska Natives make up 9% of students at the University of Alaska Anchorage, and the number attending classes on the Anchorage campus is up more than 40% since 2000—from 950 to nearly 1,400. But despite that fast growth, few Alaska Native students go on to graduate. Less than 5% of the students earning bachelor’s degrees at UAA in 2007 were Alaska Native. And as Figure 1 shows, only about one in 10 of the Native students who were freshmen in 2000 had earned bachelor’s degrees six years later, in 2006. Alaska Native students begin leaving at high rates in their second year at UAA. Among those who started in 2005, less than 60% of the Native freshmen but 70% of all freshmen went on to the next year. Still, that was an improvement over 2000, when only about half the Alaska Native freshmen continued on to their second year (Figure 1). The low graduation rates among Native students—not only at UAA but throughout the University of Alaska—are worrisome. Alaska Natives are under-represented in teaching, health care, business, and many other professions—and that won’t change until more Alaska Native students get the educational credentials they need. But what about those Alaska Native students who do succeed in earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees and doctorates? What keeps them going, when so many others don’t make it to graduation?