Hispanic high school graduates pass whites in college enrollment rate

It just so happens that in the same week that a co-author of a Heritage Foundation immigration study resigned for suggesting that Hispanics have lower IQs than whites, the Pew Research Hispanic Center released a new analysis showing that Hispanic high school graduates have passed whites in the rate of college enrollment.

In a report by Richard Fry and Paul Taylor, the center says that “a record seven-in-ten (69%) Hispanic high school graduates in the class of 2012 enrolled in college that fall, two percentage points higher than the rate (67%) among their white counterparts.”

Furthermore, the center’s analysis of new data from the U.S. Census Bureau showed that according to the most recent available data, in 2011, “only 14% of Hispanic 16- to 24-year-olds were high school dropouts, half the level in 2000 (28%).”

A recent comprehensive investigation of high school graduation rates finds that 78% of Hispanics graduated from high school in 2010, an increase from 64% in 2000.

The high school dropout rate among whites  also declined during that period — from 7 percent in 2000 to 5 percent in 2011, but not as much as the Hispanic rate.

Still, Hispanics lag behind whites on key higher education measures, including:

Recent high school completers are only a subset of youth. Some youth recently dropped out of high school, others dropped out in earlier years, and some were never enrolled in U.S. schools. The immediate college entry rate only refers to youth recently graduating high school. Furthermore, it is possible that a youth could delay attending college after being out of high school for some time….

….Young Hispanic college students are less likely than their white counterparts to enroll in a four-year college (56% versus 72%), they are less likely to attend a selective college, less likely to be enrolled in college full time, and less likely to complete a bachelor’s degree.

 

The Hispanic college enrollment rise is a trend that accelerated with the onset of the recession in 2008, the report says. As recently as the high school graduating class of 2000, only 49 percent of Hispanics immediately enrolled in college the following fall.

The authors suggest these as possible causes for the rise in Hispanic college enrollment:
It is possible that the rise in high school completion and college enrollment by Latino youths has been driven, at least in part, by their declining fortunes in the job market. Since the onset of the recession at the end of 2007, unemployment among Latinos ages 16 to 24 has gone up by seven percentage points, compared with a five percentage point rise among white youths. With jobs harder to find, more Latino youths may have chosen to stay in school longer.

Another factor, however, could be the importance that Latino families place on a college education. According to a 2009 Pew Hispanic Center survey, 88% of Latinos ages 16 and older agreed that a college degree is necessary to get ahead in life today (Pew Hispanic Center, 2009). By contrast, a separate 2009 survey of all Americans ages 16 and older found that fewer (74%) said the same (Pew Research Social & Demographic Trends, 2009).

In October 2012, 66 percent of all recent high school graduates were enrolled in college, the report says.

You can read about the resignation of Jason Richwine, from the Heritage Foundation here.

The co-author of a controversial Heritage study that has invited an avalanche of blistering criticism, has resigned from Heritage, the first step in what will be an effort to contain the damage arising from the report.

 

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.
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Valerie Strauss · May 10, 2013