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Since the Obama administration’s release of their goals to increase college graduation rates by the end of the decade, the nations attention has turned to the over 50 million Hispanics in the U.S.
As the largest minority population in the country, Latino college graduation rates will need to play a key role in the nation’s quest to become the world leader in college completion by 2020.
Hispanic students will need to earn 5.5 million college degrees over the next several years for the U.S. to meet Obama’s goal, according to Excelencia in Education’s initiative “Ensuring America’s Future by increasing Latino College Completion”.
However, many socio-economic factors conflict and limit Latino access to college and ultimately, graduation.
“Over 40 percent of Latinos who are enrolled in college are the first in their family to go to college. And so you already have issues not just of enrollment but persistence to completion that require academic support,” Deborah Santiago, Excelencia in Education’s co-founder and vice president for policy and research.
However, it’s not all bad news.
Earlier this month the Pew Hispanic Center reported that Hispanic students became the largest minority group on college campuses across the country. Over 2 million Latino students enrolled in two-year and four-year college institutions in 2011.
But despite this increase, Latino high school and college graduation rates continue to fall behind those of other groups.
The majority of Latinos who earn degrees do not leave campus with degrees in fields that have strong hiring prospects or high-earning potential.
With many economists predicting that the nation’s labor market will remain uncertain for some time, the drive to expand the Hispanic college completion rate could benefit from aligning what more students study to workforce needs.
However, related states of Latino education and employment are improving; but at slow rate.