Morehouse College’s push to help Black men graduate after interrupted education

Pricey tuition and unexpected life changes can prevent promising students from completing a college degree. Morehouse College leaders understand not all students who take a break have the means of returning back to the classroom, but they said their new online program will help boost Black men to the next stages of their educations and careers.

"I know for most, the choice to not continue at Morehouse wasn't a choice they made happily," Edward Platenburg said.

A transcript mix-up forced him back into the classroom in the early 2000s when online classes were unheard of.

"I was very serious about making sure I finished what I started," Platenburg said.

"I was working 12-hour shifts," he said. "The online offer, I can't imagine having that at my disposal at that time."

US Census data indicates there are more than 3 million Black men who have completed some college classes but have not yet obtained a bachelor's degree.

"I had many individuals at alumni events who would come to me and say 'I actually never finished but I still feel attached to the community. Is there a way for me to finish,'" Morehouse College President David A. Thomas said.

"There is a million-dollar difference in lifetime earnings between those who only finish high school and those who have a college degree, so we're just talking about the economic impact in our communities."

Thomas said the new program called "Morehouse Online" aims at helping hundreds of men finish those degrees.

"We are a college for men. Our particular commitment is to the education and development of Black men, but we are a college for men. Since the founding of Morehouse there have been men on our campus who are not African American or Black," he said.

Interested applicants must be non-traditional, as in, they are not fresh out of high school.

The school provided technology and hotspots to students in need during the pandemic and will provide in this instance as well.

"If we have an exceptional student and the only thing stopping him from attending Morehouse online is a computer, we've got him covered," Thomas said.

Those men are covered and capable of finishing what was started.

"The average online student is between the ages of 39 and 45 in a world when people are going to live on average to be 80 so that's a lot of runway left to come to Morehouse to go the next level or chapter," Thomas said.

The business management degree will be available as soon as August 2021. The college's partner, "2U" is working with companies to create scholarships with employees who would want to attend "Morehouse online." To apply, click here or here.

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