Latino College Enrollments Up. But Work Remains

I reviewed the recent PEW Hispanic Center report regarding increasing Latino college enrollments with cautious optimism.  While Latinos are making significant strides of getting into college, many challenges remain in getting Latinos out of college – to graduation.

I’m delighted with the enrollment numbers; yet, I’m more concerned that Latinos are not navigating their way through the college pipeline. There are obvious “leaks” along the way.

The reasons are many: financial aid, institutional support, academic preparedness, and obviously many others. The report helps identify that an opportunity exists to buttress the leakage of Latino college talent.

As a community, we’ve done a commendable job of getting our Latino youth to value education and attending college; let’s now concentrate on making the education message clearer, supporting their efforts, getting them to graduate – and into the workforce.

I’ve added  some thoughts and highlights after the jump:

Despite driving enrollments, Latinos are still less likely to be enrolled in college:

Rising educational attainment is the more dominant driver of these enrollment trends, over the long term as well as in recent years. The share of young Hispanics enrolled in college rose from 13% in 1972 to 27% in 2009 to 32% in 2010. Although the college enrollment rate of young Hispanics is at a record (32%), black (38%), Asian (62%) and white (43%) young adults continue to be more likely than young Hispanics to be enrolled in college.

The report indicates that the flow of the Latino educational pipeline is strengthening:

Hispanic educational attainment rose sharply from 2009 to 2010: The share of Hispanic 18- to 24-year-olds who have completed high school increased to 73% in 2010 from 70% in 2009, and the share of young Hispanic high school graduates who are attending college increased to 44% in 2010 from 39% in 2009.

However, the majority of Latinos are still enrolling in community colleges rather than 4 year institutions. This suggests that many Latino college students still face financial, social, and cultural challenges.

Much of this growth in college enrollment among young Hispanics has been at community colleges. Of all young Hispanics who were attending college last October, some 46% were at a two-year college and 54% were at a four-year college. By contrast, among young white college students, 73% were enrolled in a four-year college, as were 78% of young Asian college students and 63% of young black college students.

Although enrollments are up significantly, Latinos with at least a bachelor’s degree remains the lowest of all ethnic groups:

Although Hispanic youths have narrowed the gap in college enrollment, Hispanic young adults continue to be the least educated major racial or ethnic group in terms of completion of a bachelor’s degree. In 2010, only 13% of Hispanic 25- to 29-year-olds had completed at least a bachelor’s degree.