September 5, 2002

Latinos In Higher Education

Many Enroll, Too Few Graduate

This report shows that by some measures a greater share of Latinos are attending college classes than non-Hispanic whites, and yet they lag every other population group in attaining college degrees, especially bachelor’s degrees. A detailed examination of data for enrollment shows a high propensity among Latino high school graduates to pursue post-secondary studies. However, most are pursuing paths associated with lower chances of attaining a bachelor’s degree. Many are enrolled in community colleges, many also only attend school part-time and others delay or prolong their college education into their mid-20s and beyond. These findings clearly show that large numbers of Latinos finish their secondary schooling and try to extend their education but fail to earn a degree. Heretofore, policy-makers and researchers concerned with Hispanic educational achievement have focused most intently on issues related to primary and secondary education, especially high school dropout rates. Those issues are undoubtedly important. This report, however, demonstrates that significant gains can be made with policy initiatives targeted at Latinos who graduated from high school, who applied for and were granted admission to a two- or four-year college and who have enrolled.