College Degree Attainment Remains Low Among Latinos

College Degree Attainment Remains Low Among Latinos
  • Opening Intro -

    College degree attainment is considered by many as an indicator of a society's performance.

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Under President Obama, the US Department of Education has been tasked with helping America return to its previously held position as No. 1 in the world for college graduates, a move that the president says will help the country compete effectively in a global economy.

To reach that goal (set for 2020), American colleges and universities should work toward increasing the graduation rate for Latinos, what trails the rate for all adults according to Excelencia in Education!, an organization that tracks education trends by race and ethnicity.

Excelencia found that college degree attainment for Latinos aged 25 and above is 20 percent compared to 36 percent for all adults. The median age of Latinos in the United States is currently 27, compared with 42 for White, Non-Hispanics. At present, Latinos compose 17 percent of the US population and 22 percent of the K-12 population. Both numbers are expected to continue to rise in the coming years.

National Equity Gap

Excelencia! has pinpointed three equity gaps that they say must be closed if degree completion is attained. Alone, the three only tell part of the story, but together each gap shows how Latinos are currently behind:

1. Graduation rates — Obtaining a bachelor degree is typically accomplished within four years, representing 100 percent of the program time. However, many students take an extra two years to complete their education and even after that extended academic time the graduation rate for Whites was 50 percent and for Latinos it was 41 percent.

2. Full- and part-time students — When all students are included (full- and part-time) the completion rate for 100 full-time equivalent students falls to 16 percent for Latinos and 20 percent for Whites.

3. Population in need — Another area where Latinos trail significantly is for population in need. The graduation rate for Latinos remains at 16 percent, but for Whites it improves to 24 percent. This difference suggests that more Latinos are falling through the gaps than Whites.

What Works

Excelencia In Education! has identified a number of programs at various colleges and universities across the nation that have demonstrated what works best in increasing Latino graduation rates.

For example, at Bluegrass Community and Technical College in Kentucky, Latino students are eligible to participate in a college day camp that promotes self-awareness and self-advocacy. Its a literacy program that provides peer and professional mentoring as well.

In Raleigh, North Carolina State University runs a retention program including a freshman orientation symposium, individual assistance, peer mentors and a culturally competent student success series for Latino students. Moreover, the program includes an outreach to middle school, high school and community college students.

Effective Solutions

Excelencia! believes that these programs and others like it “show evidence of effectiveness in accelerating Latino student success.” The organization is encouraging other schools to launch similar initiatives in a bid to improve academic achievement for Latino students at the associate, baccalaureate and graduate levels, what ultimately will help America return to its No. 1 position for college graduates.

See AlsoMore Students Are Successfully Taking AP Courses

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