American Indian Tribal Colleges and Universities: Things That You Don’t Know About Them

Published October 21, 2019

Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) are a distinct category of higher education institutions in the US that have educational and other supporting functions oriented towards serving Indian minorities. These institutions were defined in the Higher Education Act of 1965 and are autonomously operated by American Indian tribes. As stated on the website of the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education from December 2011, there are 32 fully accredited Tribal Colleges and Universities in the country, plus a candidate for accreditation and three in associate status. These are located mostly in the Midwest and Southwest either on the territory of or in proximity to a reservation. TCUs are not only essential in providing education or job-related training and skills, but also play a key role in preserving and fostering Indian culture, traditions, and language.

History and Current State of TCUs

The US has 573 American Indian and Alaska Native tribes and settlements that are federally-recognized and are eligible for funding and assistance from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Part of this funding and assistance is carried by supporting higher education institutions in American Indian communities. Oftentimes, these are the only post-secondary educational institutions available in poor, remote regions with high rates of unemployment and few economic opportunities, hence, these serve as community anchors not only for formal education and many forms of vocational training but also for social life, activism, health-related knowledge, etc.

Until TCUs were established half a century ago, American Indians didn’t go to college, which reflected a history of discrimination and exclusion from society. The civil rights movement encouraged the establishment of the first TCUs but it took some time for them to gain current levels of popularity. For instance, total, enrolment, increased from 2100 students in 1982 to nearly 30,000 in 2003 – part of the reason is that native Americans chose to return to reservations.

While even seniors can enroll in TCU programs, most students are in their mid 20’s -30’s and have jobs in parallel as well as families and children to support. Moreover, about 80% of native American colleges students require financial aid. Besides, they might need to travel daily even up to 100 miles to attend classes. All these combined represent a real barrier to pursuing education.

Remedial Work Is The Key

Fresh students need remedial work in several disciplines, especially in math (74%), reading and writing (50%), etc. In fact, only 10% of the bachelor students that go directly from reservation high schools to non-minority institutions, finish the chosen programs. Part of the reason is the difficulty to adapt to the curriculum, the demands, and the study environment in mainstream colleges.

Extensive remedial work helps reduce this high dropout rate. Fortunately, when it comes to improving writing skills, students at both TCUs and non-minority institutions have the option of contracting aTOP level essays writing servicethat can provide virtually all kinds of writing assistance and guidance. This includes writing tailored samples of case studies, research papers, literature reviews, annotated bibliographies, etc.; writing a particularly challenging paper section: abstract, conclusion, etc.; editing and proofreading a paper; and much more. The assistance offered is not limited to this and also includes help with coursework, including math and science.

The fact that remedial work is a key focus in TCUs could help explain the surprisingly low dropout rate of only 14% reported across TCU programs. Obviously, other things play an equally crucial role in ensuring academic success, such as a sense of belonging to the community, a familiar cultural and linguistic environment, supportive teaching staff, etc.

The Role of TCUs

There are about 358 educational programs offered by Tribal Colleges and Universities among which 181 associate degree programs, 40 bachelor’s degree programs, 5 master’s degree programs, but also short-term courses, remedial, including preparation and support for General Equivalency Diploma testing.  Apart from their educational role, TCUs have many other functions, such as promoting job creation through entrepreneurial programs, on-campus childcare, substance abuse counseling, organizing summer camps. They also serve as health centers, points of Internet access, libraries, repositories of the tribe’s cultural heritage, etc.

Conclusion

TCUs make education accessible to many students who wouldn’t otherwise be able to pursue it. Despite a lack of financing and other challenges they or their students face,TCUs are uniquebecause they represent a valuable model of community-oriented education. Thus, in contrast with traditional higher-education institutions, TCUs focus on the well-being of students in the context of the immediately surrounding community, while also serving the latter in multiple ways. This helps to build a higher sense of purpose, belonging, and self-worth in students and perhaps allows them to deliver better prospects of integration after graduation. TCU’s are also stunning examples of cost-efficiency, demonstrating how much can be done with low finances and high dedication.

Jeremy Raynolds is a former full-time content writer for EduBirdie. He has extensive knowledge about the various online tutoring services active on the market. In his articles, he often explores how online content writing services can integrate with modern education by offering students yet another form of affordable and highly customizable tutoring. Jeremy likes to explore and analyze the various specializations and perks these online content writing services opt for in order to remain competitive and useful to the client.

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