Hispanic Students Lag in College Admission

HOUSTON

 

Hispanic students in Texas are falling behind educationally, with high school graduation rates lower than average and college enrollment lagging that of Black and White students.

 

Hispanics are the fastest-growing ethnic group in Texas, but they are falling behind in some measures of academic success.

 

Only 68 percent graduate from high school within four years, 10 points below the overall rate, and just 42.5 percent of those who graduated in 2007 enrolled in college or technical training the following fall, lower rates than Black and White students.

 

The challenges of improving education of Hispanics, who make up about 36 percent of the state, have been complicated by rapid growth.

 

“We’ve made progress,” said Raymund Paredes, higher education commissioner for Texas, in a story published Sunday for the Houston Chronicle. “Our challenge is, we started so far behind, and the Latino population is growing so fast.”

 

Hispanic enrollment in college has grown faster than any other racial or ethnic group in the past five years, but the population has grown almost as quickly, wiping out much of the gains.

 

Paredes said the numbers have to improve to ensure the state has a well-educated work force.

 

“The Hispanic community is key to the economic future of Texas,” he said.

 

The state launched a plan in 2000 called Closing the Gaps with hopes of increasing college enrollment to 5.7 percent of the population by 2015, on-par with the national average.

The rate has edged up to 5.3 percent from 5 percent overall. For Hispanics, the rate is 3.9 percent, up from 3.7 percent.

 

To reach the 2015 enrollment goal, the state would need to have 1.6 million Texans enrolled in two- or four-year colleges or technical schools. Last fall, the number was about 1.2 million, and estimates by the Higher Education Coordinating Board suggest Texas will likely fall short by about 300,000 students.

 

Neri Gamez, 17-year-old high school junior, said she understands why many of her peers don’t go to college. Often, no one in their family went, so they don’t know the process.

And they may have to work, she said.

 

“Once they get a taste of the money, they may decide to skip college,” Gamez said.



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