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Latinos head to college at a record rate, now on par with white students

The push to keep Latino students on track for college seems to be paying off. The college enrollment rate for Hispanics is up 20 percent since 2000, narrowing the 'education gap.'

By Correspondent / May 20, 2013

Latino high school graduates are enrolling in college at an all-time high and, for the first time, at a rate comparable to that of their white peers.

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A record 69 percent of Latino students enrolled in college after their 2012 high school graduation, according to a new report by the Pew Hispanic Center. Overall, 66 percent of all 2012 high school graduates immediately enrolled in college, but Latinos did so at higher rates than whites (67 percent) and blacks (63 percent), according to preliminary data.

Latinos are the fastest-growing minority population in the US, but the increased rate of Latino students enrolling in college is more than just a demographic trend, says Pew senior research associate Richard Fry. It’s a sign that the education gap is narrowing,

In the past several years, Mr. Fry says, there has been a big push from the Latino community, higher education organizations, and scholarship foundations to keep Latino youths in high school and to help them through the process of getting into college.

“It seems to be paying off,” he says.

Since 2000, the rate of Latinos immediately entering college after high school has jumped 20 percent, while the rate of Latino high school dropouts has reached a record low: 14 percent of Latinos dropped out in 2011 compared with 28 percent in 2000, the report said.

For Elizabeth Garcia, who just finished her first year at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., going to college had been her dream since elementary school.

Raised in Palmetto, Fla., Ms. Garcia says she wants to achieve much more than what her neighborhood expects of Latino youths: high rates of violence, teen pregnancy, and high school dropouts. Her fifth-grade teacher told her she should consider becoming a plumber, because no college would ever accept her.


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