Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Educating A Growing Community

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Educating A Growing Community

Article excerpt

MANY CALL ON TWO-YEAR INSTITUTIONS TO LEAD THE WAY IN EDUCATING BOTH NATIVE-AND FOREIGN-BORN HISPANICS

WASHINGTON

Mexican President Vicente Fox traveled to Washington earlier this month to meet with President Bush and to address the U.S. Congress about his immigration proposals, which include a request that the United States provide temporary work visas for Mexicans and amnesty for undocumented Mexican immigrants. Should the United States and Mexico agree on such a policy, the higher education community would almost certainly feel its impact.

Historically, a large portion of the Hispanic population has relied on community colleges to offer a chance to get a foot in the door of higher education, largely because community colleges are affordable, accessible and flexible enough to meet the needs of Hispanic students.

According to a September 2000 report by former President Clinton's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans, about half of all Hispanic and Latino students enrolled in undergraduate education are attending community colleges. In comparison, the majority of White and African American students are enrolled in four-year institutions.

And recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau suggest that the number of Hispanic students seeking enrollment in community colleges will surge within the next 10 to 15 years.

NUMBERS PAINT A VERY BIG PICTURE

Numbers released by the Census Bureau last spring point not only to a swelling Hispanic population, but also to a Hispanic population that is young and therefore likelier to attend college.

The Hispanic population accounted for 40 percent of the total population growth in the United States between 1990-2000, jumping from 22 million to 35 million.

In 2000, 36 percent of Hispanics were 18 or younger, compared with 24 percent of non-Hispanic Whites. The median age of the Hispanic population is 26, while the median age of the entire population is 35 years.

For some states, the Hispanic population was responsible for more than half of all population growth: 80 percent in California and 66 percent in New York. That translates to 10.9 million Hispanics in California and 2.9 million in New York.

Roberto Ramirez, a survey statistician with the ethnic and Hispanic branch of the Census Bureau, says the number of Hispanics in community colleges will continue to grow, especially because of the large population of Hispanics currently enrolled in primary and secondary school.

By 2015, Hispanic undergraduate enrollment will increase by 1 million throughout the country, accounting for 15.4 percent of the nation's campus population, according to a report by Anthony Camevale, vice president for public leadership at the Educational Testing Service.

The report says that during the next 20 years, California, New York, Texas, Florida and Arizona will experience an increase of 1.4 million students, and almost half of this growth will be Hispanic.

At California community colleges alone, the number of Hispanic students grew by nearly 200,000 between 1991 and 2000.

CALIFORNIA SCHOOLS AHEAD OF THE CURVE

California has more community colleges than any other state -- 118, according to the American Association of Community Colleges. For that state, the Census numbers are critical.

Golden West College in Huntington Beach, Calif., already has launched initiatives aimed at dealing with the expansion.

Golden West, with a Hispanic student population of 16 percent, hosts a Chicano-Latino conference each year to recruit Hispanic high school students who might not otherwise be aware of the opportunities at a community college.

Carmen Sandoval, a senior staff assistant for the assessment center at Golden West, says 800 students participated in the program this year, its sixth. The conference informs students about what it takes to gain admission, the details of financial aid and what life is like for community college students. …

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