- Nine colleges and universities have been recognized for their efforts to improve outcomes for the growing population of Latino students, getting a new "Seal of Excelencia" from a Latino student advocacy organization.
- Excelencia in Education awarded: Arizona State University; Austin (Texas) Community College; California State University Channel Islands; El Paso (Texas) Community College; Florida International University; Grand Valley State University, in Michigan; South Texas College; the University of Arizona; and the University of Texas El Paso.
- The organization pointed out that while Latinos are expected to grow as a portion of the workforce by about 3% per year, their six-year college graduation rate is 10% lower than white students' rate.
While there are indications that the fast-growing Latino student population is becoming a success story in the U.S., Excelencia in Education and others argue there is more to be done, even as colleges and universities initiate programs to recruit and support these students.
"If institutions aren't effectively serving our Latino students, we lose a vital source of talent for our workforce and civic leadership," said Deborah Santiago, Excelencia in Education's CEO, in a statement.
Nearly 18 million Hispanic students were enrolled in U.S. schools and colleges in 2016, up from 8.8 million in 1996, according to Census Bureau data. During that time, they increased from 8% of college students to 19.1%.
In 2016, around half (47%) of Hispanic high school graduates between the ages of 18 and 24 were enrolled in college, an increase from 35% in 1996, Pew Research Center notes. The 2016 rate is roughly equivalent to that of white and black students, though their increases were smaller. What's more, Hispanic students' high school dropout rate fell from 34% to 10% during that time, though their's is still the highest.
However, Hispanic students have historically lagged in degree attainment. Just 15% of Hispanics between the ages of 25 and 29 had at least a bachelor’s degree as of 2014, compared to 41% of whites and 22% of blacks, according to Pew.
Hispanics are also more likely than black, Asian or white students to attend two-year colleges, Pew notes.
More than 400 colleges were considered Hispanic-Serving Institutions as of the 2016 fiscal year, which means at least one-quarter of their enrolled undergraduates identified as Hispanic.
However, Excelencia notes in its description of its new Seal that "merely designating institutions as Hispanic Serving Institutions based on Latino enrollment is no guarantee that institutions will serve their students well."
Through its Seal, Excelencia intends to help colleges and universities focus on these students. Colleges are measured on several metrics:
- Enrollment, retention and graduation of Latino students.
- Financial support options.
- Representation of Latinos in administration, faculty and staff.
The Seal also requires the use of evidence-based programs and practices to support these students, as well as tracking public messaging from the college on its commitment to Latino students' success.