Fixing the Leaky Pipeline: How Increasing the Mental Bandwidth of Marginalized Students Can Positively Impact their Retention

The higher education enrollment dearth has led to increased competition for students and a deliberate focus on retention, especially at small colleges and universities.  Important to this work is the retention of traditionally marginalized student populations (i.e. BIPOC, LGBTQ+, first generation, and low-income), whose enrollment are steadily increasing while their retention numbers continue to lag behind their peers. Although many factors impact the retention of traditionally marginalized students, researchers recognize the adverse role that “the bandwidth tax” play in the overall student experience.  Bandwidth stealers such as microaggressions, racism, homophobia, poverty, and classism can rob students of precious cognitive space and thereby impede their learning and experience on campus.


This session will discuss the concept of mental bandwidth within the marginalized college student experience, factors that deplete it and what practitioners can do to increase bandwidth and thereby positively impact the retention of students.