A New High for Latinos in College

Great  and hopeful news for Latinos across the country; the numbers of Latinos enrolling in college have spiked to unparalleled levels across California and the U.S!

Pew Center Report: Record Number of Latino Kids in College

Recent data showed the number of Latinos 18-24 attending college in the U.S. increased by 24 percent from 2009 to 2010. The data, which includes students at both two and four-year colleges, was compiled by the Pew Hispanic Center. The reasons for this tremendous spike in Latino college enrollment can be tied to the classic immigrant dream of a better life (or the “American dream”) as well as the economic recession. With so many out of work or facing dim job prospects, furthering an education becomes a natural choice.

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Lisa Garcia Bedolla, a professor at the Graduate School of Education at UC Berkeley, said that some of the immigrant work ethic and hopefulness carries through to their kids. “I can say that in my own family, and I would imagine in other families also, the immigrant generation has always been motivated because they remember what the conditions were like wherever they came from,” she said.

Latino college enrollment in California has experienced the same growth, but has increased the most in the community college system, while enrollment in the system’s most prestigious schools either decreased or remained dormant. Some experts, such as sociologist Hugh Mehan, believes that the disproportionate number of Latinos going to community college is a result of rising costs at four-year public universities. “A two-year degree is an important step up, but it’s not the same as a four-year degree, which can open more (professional) doors for a student,” he said.

Despite getting good grades in school, 17-year-old Miroslava De Leon plans on enrolling in community college. The teen’s father left school at age 13 and her mother dropped out of nursing school as a young woman in Mexico. “They’re my biggest inspiration, and I want to (go to college) to set an example for future generations,” she said. “I want to be that change.”