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.

Related Links:

– “Hispanic High School Graduates Pass Whites in Rate of College Enrollment,” Pew Hispanic Center.

– “Record rate of Hispanic students heading to college,” USA Today.

– “As Latinos Make Gains in Education, Gaps Remain,” The New York Times.

– “Latino High School Graduation Rate Sees Large Increase,” Latino Ed Beat.

– Diplomas Count, Editorial Projects in Education Research Center.

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Education is Top Issue for Latino Voters

Education hasn’t been one of the top issues being discussed in the run up to the presidential election. But for Latino voters, it is perhaps the most important issue.

A recent survey by the Pew Hispanic Center shows just how important. Pew surveyed 1,765 Latino adults from throughout the country by telephone between Sept. 7 and Oct. 4. The group included 903 registered voters.

About 55 percent of Latino registered voters said education was extremely important to them, followed closely by jobs. Only about 34 percent of Hispanic voters said immigration was extremely important.

About 89 percent of the Latino adults surveyed (and 86 percent of registered Latino voters) said they supported President Obama’s deferred action plan, which will allow undocumented immigrant youth who grew up in the United States and meet certain requirements to stay in the country legally to study and apply for work permits. About 31 percent of Hispanic adults (and 26 percent of Latino registered voters) said they know someone who has applied for deferred action.

The same survey found that 69 percent of the Latino registered voters surveyed supported President Obama and 21 percent supported Mitt Romney.

This isn’t the first time a survey has found education to be a top concern. A poll by the Federation for Children and the Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options released in May found that 58 percent of Latinos agreed that “we need to hear more from the presidential candidates on how they will improve education.”

For registered voters, the margin of error was plus or minus 4.6 percentage points.

Related Links:

– “Latino Voters Support Obama by 3-1 Ratio, but are less certain than Others about Voting.” Pew Hispanic Center.

– “Latino Voters Rank Education as a Top Issue.” Latino Ed Beat.

One in Four Public Elementary Students Is Hispanic, Study Shows

A new report by the Pew Hispanic Center shows that the Latino population hit record highs in college and public school enrollment in 2011.

The analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data illustrates the shifts of the population through the school system. Most notably, researchers found that Latinos are  now the largest minority among 18-24 year-olds on four-year college campuses. The number of Latinos in college grew by 15 percent, or 265,000 students, between 2010 and 2011. Meanwhile, the white college population grew by just three percent.

Latinos now make up about 16.5 percent of all college students, 25.2 percent of two-year college students, 24.7 percent of elementary public school students and 26 percent of public kindergarten students.

While the increase in college enrollment may be cause for celebration for advocates and the number of Latinos earning degrees is increasing, the Hispanic population still is lagging in the share of students completing. According to Pew,  in 2010 among 18 to 24-year-old degrees recipients, Latinos made up 13.2 percent of those earning an associate and 8.5 percent of those earning a bachelor’s degree.

About 46 percent of Latinos who complete high school go on to enroll in two- or four-year colleges, compared with 51 percent of white students. Again, it’s important to remember that due to high dropout rates, many Latinos in this age bracket are not included in this percentage.

In addition, Latinos lag other populations in their preschool enrollment. When Pew took into account both public and private schools, they found that in October 2011 Hispanics made up just 20 percent of nursery school enrollments.

You can use this data to see whether this growth is trickling down to the local level. How much has Latino K-12 and college enrollment grown in your area? If growth has stalled at the college level, are administrators doing anything to address the issue? While public schools are improving preschool access for Hispanic children, do you know of any nonprofits or private schools with their own initiatives geared at providing services for this young population?

And don’t forget that the Pew Hispanic Center’s Richard Fry is a very good resource for reporters who responds amazingly quickly to inquiries regarding demographic data.

Related Links:

– “Hispanic student enrollments reach new highs in 2011.” Pew Hispanic Center.

– “More Hispanics are in College, Report Finds.” The New York Times.

– “Latino college enrollment is surging.” Fronteras.

Undocumented Immigrant Students May Begin Applying for “Deferred Action” Today

Young undocumented immigrants today may begin applying for “deferred action” status that would protect them from deportation for two years and allow them to work. The new protected status is the result of a policy change announced by President Obama in June.

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, up to 1.7 million undocumented young people ages 30 and younger–about 85 percent of whom are Latino–could stand to benefit.

To qualify, undocumented immigrants must have lived in the United States continuously since June 15,2007; must have moved to the United States before reaching their 16th birthday; be enrolled in school, have a high school diploma or GED, or have been honorably discharged from the military when they apply; and cannot have committed a felony or significant misdemeanor.

In addition, young people can prove their identity with passports or birth certificates, any photo ID, school transcripts, medical and financial records, sworn affidavits and other evidence.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has posted instructions on how to apply online, in addition to lists of other documents young people can provide.  They must pay a $465 application fee, but young people with high financial need may apply for an exemption.

The change stops short of the Dream Act, which has repeatedly failed to pass in Congress and would have provided path to citizenship for undocumented youth.

Still, the changes are making many young people more optimistic about their futures.

Ariel Ruiz, 23, immigrated illegally to the U.S. from Mexico at age 10 and is a graduate of Whitman College with a degree in sociology. Because he was undocumented, after he graduated he worked one summer harvesting garlic.

“I’m finally able to see a pathway to doing what I studied to do,” he told The Chronicle of Higher Education. “It will be a great source of motivation for students who gave up on education, thinking they would end up picking apples or onions.”

The Chronicle story pointed out that many colleges have not been actively informing students about the policy, even though many of their students are eligible. However, number of groups across the country are offering young people assistance in applying and determining their eligibility. In my region, Catholic Charities of Dallas is offering appointments. The group United We Dream is providing information online.

Related Links:

– “Up to 1.7 million unauthorized immigrant youth may benefit from new deportation rules.” Pew Hispanic Center.

– “Instruction for consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals.” U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

– “U.S. opens a door to a dream.” The Chronicle of Higher Education.

– United We Dream.

– “Relief for young undocumented immigrants starts today.” Learning the Language. Education Week.