Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

Hispanic Student Enrollments Hit Historic Highs

Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

Hispanic Student Enrollments Hit Historic Highs

Article excerpt

Following a 24 percent spike in Hispanic college enrollment in 2010, Hispanics achieved, a number of school enrollment records in 2011. Most significantly according to the report Hispanic Student Enrollments Reach Now Highs in 2011 released by the Pew Hispanic Center in August 2012, at nearly all levels, from K-12 to four-year postsecondary institutions, Hispanic enrollment has readied historic liiglis.

Written by Dr. Richard Fry and Dr. Mark Hugo López of the Pew Hispanic Center, the report provides a clear picture that shows Hispanics increasingly gaining new ground, particularly at the four-year college level. But while they continue to outpace other groups in college enrollment, Hispanics - the largest minority group in die United States and now die largest minority group on college campuses - still lag behind other groups relative to dieir percentage of die general population. And it's not apparent that the current upward trend at the college level will be sustained in the future. Nevertheless, what is clear is that in recent years young Hispanics have been making ever greater progress in catching up educationally to their peers in other groups. Today more than 16 percent of young college students are Hispanic.

Public School Enrollment: How the Pipeline to College Is Changing

Among its findings, the report cites significant changes at the public school level diat have contributed gready to growth at subsequent levels of education. Based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the authors found diat 12.4 million Hispanics were enrolled in the nation's public schools frooi pre-K through 12th-grade level in October 2011.

Approximately one-quarter (24.7 percent) of all public elementary school students nationwide in 2011 were Hispanic - a trend reached at the kindergarten level in 2007 and the public nursery school level in 2006, according to the report. And across the entire public school spectrum, 2j,9 percent of all pre-K through 12thgrade public school students were Hispanic - a record high for Hispanic public school enrollment. For the sake of comparison in terms of growth, Hispanic K-12 enrollment share in 2011 was about 8 percent liigher than in 2000, and 18 percent higher than in 1972.

The report points out that while Hispanic population growth has played a role, it does not in and of itself fully explain the growth in enrollment. Beyond growth in the share of students at the K-12 level, Hispanics have also gained more ground in terms of secondait' level completion and college enrollment eligibility. In 2011, 21 percent of all public high school students were Hispanic. Also, a record 76.3 percent of all Hispanics between the ages of 18 and 24 (3-plus percent more dian in 2010) had either a high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) degree - the highest liigli school completion rate ever attained by Hispanics.

As a result, these changes at the public school level have set die stage lor growth at the postsecondary level. Among these young secondary level completers, 45.6 percent w'ere enrolled in either two-year or four-year colleges - another record.

College Enrollment: A Number of Milestones

College enrollment among all students ages 18 to 24 grew by 3 percent between 2010 and 2011, reaching a record high of 12.6 million. But there was a vast difference in enrollment trends among the groups compared in the report. White non-Hispanic enrollment, for example, hit 7.9 million in 2011, up 3 percent from 2010. Meanwhile enrollment among Blacks actually fell by 3 percent to 1.6 million, while Asian-American enrollment dropped even further - down by 8 percent to about threequarters of a million students.

Hispanics in the same age bracket, on the other hand, made significant gains, increasing by 15 percent to a total of 2.1 million. Hispanic enrollment growth alone accounted for about three-quarters of the overall increase in enrollment across all groups. The 15 percent surge follows an earlier spike in Hispanic enrollment of about 24 percent between 2009 and 2010, as reported early last year (see "Closing the Education Gap: A Surge in Hispanic College Enrollment" in the Jan. …

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