Thursday, June 17, 2010

Report: Latinos help college enrollment boost

Latinos and other ethnic minorities are behind an increase in college enrollment according to a study released by the Pew Research Center.

The report found that the number of freshmen students in college has grown by 6% between 2007 and 2008, the first year of the U.S. recession. During that period Hispanic freshman enrollment grew by 15%, outpacing blacks (8%), Asians (6%) and whites (3%). Though the boost in first-year enrollment was across al levels of colleges, researchers found that minority students tended to be bunched in community colleges and trade schools rather than four-year institutions.

Why has this minority enrollment surge occurred? One reason according to the study is the demographic change in the Latino population. Indeed, last week we mentioned that Census data found an increase in the number of Latinos, which tends to be younger than the general populace. In addition the study cited a larger number of Latinos competing high school, a record high of 70% in October 2008. Another factor not mentioned by researchers is that Latino youth seeking jobs have been hit very hard by the recession and their unemployment rate in January reached 13.9%. Hence, going to college becomes a more favorable option.

Not all was good news for Latinos in the Pew study, as the AP noted:
(...) while Hispanics have seen recent gains in college enrollment, they still lag overall. Hispanics make up roughly 12 percent of full-time undergraduate and graduate students, compared to their 16 percent representation in the total U.S. population.

"These findings are only half reassuring," (Pew researcher Richard) Fry said. "Many Hispanic teens still are not graduating high school, and the high school gains may not be sustained when the teen labor market revives. It also remains to be seen how many of these additional minority freshmen will actually complete degrees."
Image- avstop.com
Online Sources- Pew Research Center, AP, Washington Post, The Latin Americanist

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