Recruiting and supporting the growing Latino student population

Latino college enrollment and completion efforts include raising awareness of Hispanic culture, analyzing student pathways, and using related evidence to support retention

While other demographic groups have recently dropped in higher ed enrollment, the percentage of Latinos continues to increase, and by 2025 will constitute one-fifth of all college students, according to National Center for Education Statistics data. To serve that growing population, higher ed institutions continue to eagerly recruit and work with Hispanic students.

Part of that effort includes celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 through October 15). Texas Southernmost College, Mercy College in New York, and Texarkana College and Texas A&M University at Texarkana are among the schools with special Hispanic-themed and Latino cultural events. 

Latino U College Access (LUCA), a nonprofit organization aimed at increasing college enrollment and completion among ­first-generation Latino youth, offers a variety of programs to students and partners with three school districts in New York. “I truly believe in the transformative power of an education and I believe in the incredible potential and contributions that Hispanic youth and community can bring, not only to our universities but to our community and our country,” Shirley Acevedo Buontempo, LUCA’s founder and CEO told Diverse Issues in Higher Education.

Still, there’s more work to be done. 

Broken Mirrors II: Latino Student Representation at Public State Colleges and Universities,” a recent report from The Education Trust, showed that less than a quarter of Latino adults have a college degree, and that Latinos only have a 30% college attainment rate, the lowest rate of the country’s major racial and ethnic groups. 

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Awareness of Latino students’ college experience is the first step to helping them succeed, Deborah Santiago, chief operating officer and vice president for policy at Excelencia in Education, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing Latino student success, recently told UB. Institutions then need to analyze their Latino student pathways before determining what evidence-based practices can best support persistence and completion.

“So much of what we see is Latino students adapting and changing,” Santiago said. “But institutions can meet them part of the way.” 

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