Among graduates of California public high schools that ranked in the top 10 percent statewide, 46 percent of Latinos enrolled at a community college, as compared to 27 percent of whites, 23 percent of African-Americans, and 19 percent of Asians. (Credit: iStockphoto)


High number of Latinos in California choose community college

Even among those attending the top performing high schools in California, nearly half of Latinos choose to attend community college after graduation, a new analysis shows.

The findings suggest that these young people are far more likely to attend community college than their peers from any other ethnic groups.


Among graduates of public high schools that ranked in the top 10 percent statewide, 46 percent of Latinos enrolled at a community college, as compared to 27 percent of whites, 23 percent of African-Americans, and 19 percent of Asians.

“These findings display highly stratified patterns of college-going in California,” says lead author Lindsey Malcom-Piqueux, a senior fellow with the Center for Urban Education at the University of Southern California and an assistant professor at the George Washington University.

“They show that it’s not just preparation per se that’s driving students’ college decision making. There are a lot of other factors, from issues of cost and accessibility to state colleges limiting enrollment due to budget cuts.”

Not a special interest issue

The report is one of four released by the Center for Urban Education and the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute that examine how Latinos are faring in the state’s higher education system and within Hispanic-serving institutions that enroll student populations that are 25 percent or more Latino.

Statewide, Latinos represent nearly half of the state’s college-aged population, according to the US Census Bureau.

“This is not a ‘special interest’ issue; it has very real consequences and implications for the economy of the state and the country,” says Malcom-Piqueux. “We as Californians need to pay attention to this particular issue and understand that when we invest in education and college access to four-year institutions, it’s really an investment in the future of our state.”

Chief findings of the reports include:

  • Latinos continue to experience inequities in transferring to four-year institutions. While the group represented more than 43 percent of the full-time enrollment at California’s Hispanic-serving community colleges, only 33 percent of students who transferred from these schools to the California State University system were Latino. Similarly, they represented just 21 percent of students who transferred from these community colleges to the UC system.
  • While Latinos represent 45 percent of California’s college-aged population, they earned just 31 percent of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) bachelor’s degrees.
  • In California’s Hispanic-serving community colleges, Latino and white students were found to earn an associate degree or certificate, transfer to a four-year institution or achieve transfer-prepared status at roughly the same rates. Sixty-five percent of first-time Latino students and 69 percent of white students successfully completed one of these milestones.

Separate and unequal majority

“It is in the best interest of all Californians that more Latinos earn a bachelor’s degree, that more of those who meet the admissions requirements for the University of California actually enroll, and that a larger share of the thousands of Latinos in community colleges transfer to four-year colleges,” says Estela Mara Bensimon, co-director of the Center for Urban Education.

“California’s system of higher education, especially Hispanic-Serving Institutions, will greatly influence whether California becomes a divided state with a separate and unequal Latino majority or the 21st-century model for Latino inclusiveness,” she says.

“The persistence of inequity in higher education participation and attainment will reduce the proportion of college-educated adults, which in turn will have detrimental effects on the state’s economy, workforce preparation, and the quality of life of aging baby boomers, as well as to aspirations to be a society that provides equal opportunities regardless of race or socioeconomic status.”

Source: USC

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