Copyright The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education Jan 5, 2009

Hispanics, the fastest-growing minority, are, by 2050, expected to comprise the largest school-age population.
In 2006, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 22 percent of Latino students, ages 16 to 24, dropped out of high school.
Latinos in grade 12 account for the highest percentage of long-term absenteeism - 34 percent - of any ethnic or racial group.
The Pew Hispanic Center reported recently that among Latinos across the country, 5 percent acquire some level of postsecondary education, 25 percent attend a community college, 23 percent attend a four-year school, and 47 percent never go to college.
These are facts that those interested in strengthening the pipeline for Latinos must seriously consider as we embark upon a new administration and begin to brainstorm and embrace fresh strategies and solutions in a new era.
Overview
Graduation and retention rates, particularly those of minorities, continue to daunt institutions of higher learning. While more Hispanics are enrolling in colleges, especially community colleges, their graduation rates still fall way behind those of Whites.
Responding to an online Inside Higher Ed article on Hispanic students, Roland Carrillo, director of financial aid at the external image circlei3.gifUniversity of Northern Iowa, noted: "In addition to an adequate financial aid package, we have found that making Latino students feel comfortable on campus is extremely important." Carrillo said that "Latino students will go to great lengths to graduate from a university provided they are given an opportunity."
Getting Hispanics to complete two-year programs and go on to fouryear tastitutions remains an ongoing challenge.
The Consortium of Student Retention Data Exchange (CSRDE) is a group of four-year public and private colleges and universities around the country that shares data on retention and graduation rates. The most recent CSRDE report, for AY 2004-05, concerns data from 1997 to 2003. This report tracked the retention and graduation rates of more than 4.5 million students enrolled full time and for the first time in degree-granting institutions.
The survey found a steady increase in enrollment from 1997 to 2003 and a 25 percent increase in the enrollment of underrepresented minority (URM) students. Total minority enrollment from 1997 to 2003 was 19 percent. During that time, Hispanics were the only group whose enrollment increased - from 6.7 percent of freshmen in fall 1997 to 7.5 percent in 2003· Enrollment of students of unknown ethnicity also increased during this time.
The CSRDE study shows slow but steady improvement in retention as well and found that URM students have lower retention rates in their firstyear than do students who are not URMs. The study also found that the number of students who leave after the second year about equals those who depart after their first year.
In terms of graduation, the CSRDE found that more female than male students tend to graduate within six years of starting in higher education. It also found that graduation rates for URMs was lower than for non-URMs and that students who enroll in college with higher test scores tend to have higher graduation rates.
The following statistics pertain to Latino enrollment, testing scores and degree attainment, and are compared to those of Whites and AfricanAmericans. Additionally, online colleges and universities are increasingly receiving their due as viable alternative institutions of higher learning as they continue to attract more and more students to their topical, fast-track programs. And they are of interest to us here.
The U.S. Department of Education lists the for-profit University of Phoenix, Online Campus, based in Arizona, as the U.S. college with the highest enrollment, 165,373 students in fall 2006. external image circlei3.gifOhio State University's main campus is second with an enrollment of 51,818; external image circlei3.gifMiami Dade College in Florida is third with 51,329; external image circlei3.gifArizona State University at the Tempe Campus is fourth with 51,234; and the external image circlei3.gifUniversity of Florida ranks fifth with 50,912.
According to the University of Phoenix Web site, as of Feb. 29, 2008, its enrollment since 2005 had almost tripled and was more than 330,200. Of these students, 54 percent were White; 25 percent were African-American; and 13 percent, Hispanic.
The Miami Dade College Web site lists its fall 2007 enrollment as 58,398, up more than 7,000 from the NCES figure for fall 2006. Of these, 5,284 (9 percent) were White; 11,742 (20.1 percent) were Black; and 39,147 (67 percent) were Hispanic.
The ASU Tempe Web site lists 51,481 undergraduates enrolled for AY 2007-08. Its fall 2007 enrollment included 1,663 African-American, 28,091 White and 5,609 Hispanic undergraduates, and 259 AfricanAmerican, 4,689 White and 643 Hispanic graduate students.
Enrollment
According to the Education Department, college enrollment increased slightly for all ethnic groups between fall 2005 and fall 2006. In fall 2005, total enrollment for Blacks was 2,214,600; in fall 2006 - 2,279,600.
In fall 2005, college enrollment for all Hispanic students was 1,882,000; in fall 2006 - 1,964,300.
In fall 2005, college enrollment for Whites was 11,495,400; in fall 2006-11,572,400.
For these ethnic groups, enrollment went up slightly between fall 2005 and fall 2006 at public four-year institutions. At public two-year institutions, however, while enrollment went up for Blacks - from 826,300 to 842,500 - and for Hispanics - from 930,000 to 964,400 - it went down for Whites - from 3,840,100 to 3,819,700.
Enrollment at private four-year institutions went up for all groups, but enrollment at private two-year institutions went down for Hispanics and Whites. In fall 2005, 74,800 Blacks were enrolled at private two-year institutions; in fall 2006 - 75,400. In fall 2005, 51,400 Hispanics were enrolled at private two-year institutions; in fall 2006, 49,800 Hispanics enrolled. And in fall 2005, 158,400 Whites enrolled in private two-year institutions, but in fall 2006 -149,400.
Degrees Conferred
Whites continue to attain degrees in substantially higher numbers than minority populations. In 2005-06, according to the Education Department, 89,784 Blacks, 80,854 Hispanics and 485,297 Whites attained associate degrees. Hispanics attained higher numbers in only one instance in this category - 30,040 Hispanic men attained an associate degree as compared to 27,619 Black men.
While 142,420 Blacks attained a bachelor's degree, 107,588 Hispanics and 1,075,561 Whites did so.
The number of Blacks who acquired a master's degree was 58,976 as compared to 32,438 Hispanics and 393,357 Whites.
While 3,122 Blacks acquired doctoral degrees, 1,882 Latinos and 31,601 Whites did so.
The number of professional degrees earned by Whites was also significantly higher than that of any other group. While 6,223 Blacks attained a professional degree, 4,446 Hispanics and 63,590 Whites did so.
Interestingly, the field in which most Blacks and Hispanics acquired their doctorates is education. Blacks comprised 12.3 percent - and Hispanics, 5.7 percent - of all recipients in that field. Whites acquired the highest percent of doctorates in the physical sciences, 85.4 percent of all doctoral degrees in that area.
According to the U.S. Census, out of a sample population of 100,000 surveyed from a total of 21.9 million Blacks, 24.6 million Hispanics and 136.4 million Whites, in 2007, a higher percentage of Black women than Black men attained their bachelor's degree, as did a higher percentage of Latinas than Latinos; but a slightly lower percentage of White women than White men did.
A higher percentage of Black women than Black men attained their master's degree, as did a higher percentage of Latinas than Latinos and White women than White men. However, a slightly higher percentage of Black men than Black women attained their doctorates, while the percentage of Latinos and Latinas that attained that degree was the same. And more White men than White women earned their doctoral degree.
A higher percentage of men than women in the three main categories attained a professional degree in 2007.
Scores
SAT scores for major groups showed a slight variance between 2006 and 2007. The SAT is scored on a scale of 200 to 800. In 2007, on the whole, SAT scores dropped slightly for Blacks. On average, in 2006, Blacks scored 434 in critical reading, 429 in math and 428 in writing; in 2007, Blacks scored 433 in reading, 429 in math and 425 in writing.
In 2006, Mexican-Americans averaged 454 in reading, 465 in math and 452 in writing; in 2007, they averaged 455 in reading, 466 in math and 450 in writing, with a drop of two points in writing skills, but a one-point raise in both reading and math.
In 2006, Puerto Ricans averaged 459 in reading, 456 in math and 448 in writing. In 2007, they averaged 459 ta writing, 454 in math and 447 in writing, with a drop of two points in math achievement and one point in writing.
In 2006, other Hispanics averaged 458 in reading, 463 in math and 450 in writing; in 2007, they averaged 459 in reading, 463 in math and 450 in writing, showing a one-point improvement in reading.
In 2006, Whites scored 527 on the average in reading, 536 in math and 519 ta writing. In 2007, they scored 527 in reading, 534 in math and 518 in writing, showing a two-point drop in math score average and a onepoint drop in writing score average.
ACT scores for all groups remained virtually the same between 2007 and 2008, with a variance of 0.1 lower for Blacks in that group's composite score. The ACT is scored on a 1-36 scale. In 2007, the composite score for Blacks [in English, math, reading and science] was 17.0; in 2007, it was 16.9. In 2007, the composite score for Hispanics was 18.7; in 2008, it was the same. In 2007, the composite score for Whites was 22.1; in 2008, it remained unchanged