Sunday, May 27, 2012

Just 2 in 10 Latino Students Complete Community College in Six Years

I think most reports downplay the key factors in the lack of student success. There's a general social breakdown in discipline and habits, largely cultural/socio-economic, and these are compounded by the failure of students to attain basic proficiency in their K-12 years. Top that off with a lot of kids coming from recent immigrant families, often the first in their family to attend college (and there's less linguistic and knowledge-based support in the home environment), and the basic foundation of learning isn't as strong as it might be in other demographics. It's politically incorrect to say this, but it's the truth.

See the Long Beach Press-Telegram, "Latino college students in Long Beach struggle to graduate in college graduation struggle":
LONG BEACH -- Gerardo Raya enrolled in college in 2008 with the hopes of graduating in four years and scoring a job as an animator or illustrator.

But four years later, Raya is still at Long Beach City College struggling to finish the minimal coursework he needs to transfer to a four-year university.

The 24-year-old said he's had trouble balancing his work as a recreational aide for a local high school while trying to study for a full load of classes. He's had to drop classes over the years due to work conflicts and financial problems, but Raya said he's hopeful he can transfer to Cal State Long Beach next year.

"I thought I'd be done by now but it's been really hard," he said. "I didn't think it would be this hard."

Raya isn't the only student struggling to finish college. Studies show that while more students are enrolled in college, they're taking longer to graduate.

Of the students who start four-year bachelor's degree programs, just over half finish within six years, according to the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems. Fewer than three out of 10 full- time community college students graduate with an associate degree within three years.

As a young Latino, Raya may face additional hurdles. A study released in March by the California-based Campaign for College Opportunity found that the college transfer rate for Latino students is about half that of white students -- 14 percent compared with 28 percent.

And while Latino students make up almost half of California's college-age population (age 18 to 24), they remain critically underrepresented in the state's four-year universities, according to the report, titled "Latino Students and Higher Education: California Profile."

Among the key findings:

-- Seven percent of Latinos age 25 and older held a college degree in 2009.

-- Two in 10 Latino students in community college complete an associate degree or transfer after six years, compared to 37 percent of whites.

-- Of the Latino students who graduated from high school in 2009, 16 percent met the requirements for admission into the Cal State University and University of California systems.

'Our future workforce'

Michele Siqueiros, executive director of the Campaign for College Opportunity, said the findings show a disturbing trend in one of the state's fastest-growing populations.
"Over half of the children in public schools are Latino, and these are the people who are going to make up our future workforce," Siqueiros said. "If we don't pay special attention to this group now, we can just assume this gap will continue. If we work to prepare more Latino students for college, we'll benefit as a whole society."

Siqueiros said many factors contribute to the lag in Latino graduation rates, including poverty, language barriers and lack of college information. Many Latino students are the first in their families to attend college, and while parents may have high aspirations for their children, they don't always understand the financial and academic demands of college, she said.
More at the link.