I like reading old articles and studies about underprivileged students and college. The statistics motivate me to change their chances of going to college and bettering themselves.
In the study, the American Enterprise Institute, a nonprofit research organization, examined graduation rates for students who entered college in 1999, 2000 and 2001, and found that 51 percent of those identified as Hispanic earned bachelor’s degrees in six years or less, compared with 59 percent of white students.
The researchers also found that Hispanic students trailed their white peers no matter how selective the colleges’ admissions processes.
For example, at what the researchers considered the nation’s most competitive colleges — as a yardstick, they aggregated institutions using the same six categories as a popular guidebook, Barron’s Profiles of American Colleges — the institute calculated that nearly 83 percent of Hispanic students graduated, compared with 89 percent of white students. Among colleges identified as “less competitive,” the graduation rate for Hispanic students was 33.5 percent, compared with 40.5 percent for whites.
In some ways, the report, sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, echoed a study prepared seven years ago by the Pew Hispanic Center. Using census data, it described how only 16 percent of Latino high school graduates earned a bachelor’s degree by age 29, compared with 37 percent of non-Hispanic whites and 21 percent of African-Americans.
Like their counterparts at Pew, the American Enterprise Institute scholars found barriers of language and culture as impeding students from Hispanic backgrounds. The institute’s researchers specifically noted that such students’ “familial and social ties to home are particularly strong,” and that university administrators sometimes described white students as “better prepared academically and financially for college.”
But in a statement, Andrew P. Kelly, one of the lead authors, said, “This data shows quite clearly that colleges and universities cannot place all of the blame on students for failing to graduate.” (The researchers note one caveat: the federal data does not account for students who change colleges and then graduate.)
The authors cast their research as a cautionary tale for President Obama, who, they note, “has called for the United States to reclaim its position as the nation with the highest concentration of adults with post-secondary degrees in the world.”
“Given the changing demographics of the United States,” the researchers write, “this target cannot be achieved without increasing the rate at which Hispanic students obtain a college degree.” (In employing the designation “Hispanic,” the researchers note they are following the lead of both the National Center for Education Statistics and the Census Bureau, from which they drew their raw data. The center defines Hispanic as people of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central American, South American or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.)
The study recommended that colleges adopt an “institution-wide commitment to insuring that all their students graduate,” that college counselors and others disseminate “information about schools that have a successful track record with Hispanic students” and that the government tie aid to colleges “more closely to how well schools serve their students, not simply how many students they enroll.”