College Enrollment Numbers for Latino Men Still Lag Women

Posted By Eliana Osborn on August 16, 2016 at 3:30 pm
College Enrollment Numbers for Latino Men Still Lag Women

More than half of college students are women. That’s not too surprising. But the divide in college enrollment is much more dramatic for Latino college students: 57% are women, though males are enrolling in increasing numbers. Young Latino men face particular struggles in American society, from harsher discipline rates in schools to more aggressive policing. But there are some bright spots for the 21% of young adults who identify as Hispanic.

Excelencia in Education, a nonprofit organization focused on higher education for Latino students, partnered with the University of Texas at Austin for a webinar called Action for Progress. UT-Austin has a mentoring program targeting Latino males, crucial since so many adults in the community have only a high school diploma or less. A 2014 Census Bureau report found 31% of adult Latino men had a high school education and 35% had even less; another 20% earned at least an associate degree or more.

Positive Signs for Latino men and college enrollment

Latino male high school dropout rates are improving dramatically, down from 26% in 2005 to 12% in 2014. College enrollment has gone up 75% over the past ten years from 718,000 to more than 1.26 million. Compared with other groups, Latino men had greater increases in both associate and bachelor’s degrees during this time period. This group more than doubled the number of degrees earned in just a decade.

Hispanic serving institutions, schools with more than 25% of their population identifying as Latino, have more than doubled in the past 20 years. The Hispanic population in the U.S. in 2014 was 55 million—about 17%. Latino college students are overrepresented at two-year colleges, making up 48% of the population at such schools compared with 30% identifying as white.

New project aims to boost Latino college enrollment

Mentoring to Achieve Latino Educational Success, also know as MALES, began in 2010 to address the gender disparity in Latino higher education. The project at UT-Austin has three foci: “an ongoing research agenda focused on understanding the experiences of Latino males across the education pipeline; a mentoring program that aims to cultivate an engaged support network for males of color at UT-Austin and across the Central Texas community; and, a newly launched statewide P-16 Consortium focused on the success of male students of color.”

MALES isn’t the only project trying to support Latino men in education. President Obama signed Executive Order 13555 in 2010, renewing the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics started 20 years earlier. Getting more Latinos into college—and graduating—is one of the initiative’s priorities. “Currently, Hispanic men tend to be concentrated in lower-skilled, lower-wage jobs. The career paths of the Hispanic community, men in particular, will affect the future economic success of the nation,” says a fact sheet from the Hispanic Initiative.

Another Obama project targets young men of color more generally, called My Brother’s Keeper. This is about more than education and encompasses risk factors for this males, looking at government and private programs that have found success.

Eliana Osborn
Eliana Osborn is an associate English professor at Arizona Western College, with degrees from Brigham Young University and Northern Arizona University. She’s published widely in forums such as The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

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