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LA Latinos Making Big Gains in Education

LATINO PERSPECTIVE-In the last decade of the 20th century American Latinos have lagged behind other groups educationally. In 2000, only 10 percent of Latinos aged 25-29 had earned a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to 34 percent of whites and 18 percent of African-Americans. his variation in postsecondary educational attainment has caused substantial labor market inequalities with this population. 

However, this is starting to change. According to the Pew Research Center, American Latinos have made big gains in college enrollment, a measure that includes both two- and four-year schools. From 1996 to 2012, college enrollment among Hispanics ages 18-24 more than tripled (240% increase), outpacing increases among blacks (72%) and whites (12%). (The Census Bureau did not publish Asian college enrollment figures before 1999.) In fact, for the first time in 2012, Hispanics’ college enrollment rate among high school graduates aged 18-24 surpassed that of whites, by 49 to 47 percent. 

Here in California, the state's flagship nine-school University of California system announced an eye-opening milestone:  it admitted more Latino students (29 percent) than whites (27 percent) for the 2014 academic year. Thirty-nine percent of the Golden State’s population is non-white Hispanic. 

According to the UCLA newsroom, for its fall 2015 freshman class, UCLA admitted 16,027 high school seniors who are remarkable for their achievements both inside and outside of the classroom, and who come from a more diverse range of ethnic, socioeconomic and geographic backgrounds than any previous class. 

Among Californians, 42.3 percent of those admitted first-year students at UCLA are Asian-American, 24.3 percent are white, 22.4 percent are Latino and 4.8 percent are African-American. This is important progress for American Latinos. 

At another public institution, California State University Northridge, the rate of admittance gained by American Latinos is more striking. CSUN admitted 35,206 students for the fall of 2015, and of those, 47% are Latino, 19.9% are white and 10.7% are black or African American. 

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USC, my alma mater, received 51,800 applications for the fall of 2015 and granted admission to 9,050. Only 13 percent of those students are Latino. This year, USC boasts its lowest overall acceptance rate in history at 17.5 percent, down from last year’s 17.8 percent. 

While gains for Latino students are great, we still have a long way to go. Looking at the data for an older age group with bachelor’s degrees, a gap opens because a smaller share of Latinos are actually completing a four-year degree. In 2012, Latinos accounted for just 9 percent of young adults (ages 25-29) with bachelor’s degrees. This gap is driven, in part, by the fact that Latinos are less likely than whites to enroll in a four-year college, attend a selective college and enroll full-time. 

Things are changing in our city, our state and in our nation. Only good will come from having a more diverse student body. Helping more Latinos attend and graduate from college will make all of our communities more prosperous.

Fred Mariscal came to Los Angeles from Mexico City in 1992 to study at the University of Southern California and has been in LA ever since. He is a community leader who serves as Vice Chair of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Coalition and sits on the board of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council representing Larchmont Village.  He was a candidate for Los Angeles City Council in District 4. Fred writes Latino Perspective for CityWatch and can be reached at: [email protected] ) Edited by Linda Abrams.






Vol 13 Issue 73

Pub: Sep 8, 2015