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.'
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She realized how hard she would have to work to get into college, and she found support in high school teachers and her parents, who immigrated to the US from Guatemala and Mexico before she was born.Skip to next paragraph
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“From a young age, my parents would give us money if we got straight As,” Garcia says. But when Garcia got to high school, her parents could no longer afford to reward her good grades. By then, she says, “the will and determination to do well had already been instilled in me.”
Garcia’s college-going experience – attending a four-year private university full time, on a full-ride scholarship – isn’t the typical Latino college experience.
Latinos still trail whites on several higher education measures, the Pew report said:
- Latinos are less likely than whites to enroll in four-year colleges (56 percent compared with 72 percent of recent high school graduates).
- They are less likely than whites to attend a selective college (60 percent compared with 85 percent of sophomores who enrolled in a four-year college).
- Latinos are less likely than whites to enroll in college full time (78 percent compared with 85 percent among college students 18 to 24 years old).
- They are less likely than whites to complete a bachelor’s degree (11 percent compared with 22 percent of 22- to 24-year-olds who had attained a bachelor’s degree).
“College-going is not a small chore in America,” Fry says. Students and their families must navigate a complicated process and start to make plans during high school about what to do after graduation – they have to decide where they want to go, take the right courses, and apply for financial aid. For immigrant families, in which many of the parents have not attended college, knowing the process of how to apply to college can be an obstacle, he adds.
With the lackluster economy hitting Latino youths harder than white youths, Latino families are increasingly recognizing the importance of staying in school, the Pew report said.
“We see changing parental attitudes shifting toward the importance of work versus the importance of schooling for their teenagers,” Fry says, referring to previous Pew research. In 2009, 84 percent of Latinos ages 16 and older said a college degree is necessary to get ahead in life, compared with 74 percent of all Americans.
“In all Hispanic families there is a passion and determination to do better for oneself,” Garcia says. “We don’t have to be migrant workers, tomato pickers, or construction workers. Not that there is anything wrong with those jobs, but there is more we can do for the community and for the world.”
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