Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Pew: Latinos Making Dramatic Gains in College Enrollment

Latino high school graduates in the Class of 2012 were more likely to enroll in college than their white counterparts, a new Pew Hispanic Center study has found.

About 69% of Hispanic high school graduates enrolled in college the following fall, compared with 67% of their white peers. The data used for the study comes from the U.S. Census Bureau.

“This is the maturation of a big second generation among Latinos — native born, and educated in American schools,” Richard Fry, the report’s author, told The New York Times.

The Pew report also suggests that the struggling economy and the availability of fewer jobs could make college seem like a more appealing choice to young Latinos.

The announcement comes after the release of other reports in recent months showing that the educational outcomes for Latinos are looking brighter. More Hispanics are graduating from high school, although there is still plenty of room for growth and an achievement gap with whites persists.

In January, the National Center for Education Statistics released a report finding that the Latino high school graduation rate increased to 71.4% in 2010, up from 61.4% in 2006.

Similarly, an analysis by the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center found that the Latino graduation rate for the Class of 2009 was 63%, representing a 5.5% increase from the previous year.

We should not minimize the fact that too many Latinos are still not making it to the high school graduation finish line, and they are not being factored into the Pew Hispanic Center’s percentages. Pew measured the college-going rates of the actual graduates, and does not include the students who started high school the same year but dropped out.

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, in 2011 about 14% of Latino 16- to 24-year-olds were high school dropouts, down from 28% in 2000. The white high school dropout rate in 2011 was 5%, in comparison.

Pew has a few other caveats, as well. Just 56% of Hispanic college students are enrolled in four-year colleges and universities, compared with 72% of white students. Hispanic students are therefore more likely to attend community college, less selective schools, and are more likely to be part-time students — all factors that contribute to the fact that they are less likely to complete a bachelor’s degree.

But certainly, strides are being made and justifiably, celebrated.