Calif. Latinos Surge Into College, But Graduation Rates Lag

A new report finds that lower college graduation rates lead to lower pay in the workforce, as Latinos have the lowest median earnings of all groups in California. Photo Credit: Pixabay

Suzanne Potter
California News Service

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The number of Latinos in college in California is surging, but their graduation rates are still far behind other groups, according to a new report.

Researchers at Georgetown University found that 12 percent of Latinos have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 43 percent of whites and 24 percent of African-Americans.

Audrey Dow, senior vice president at the Campaign for College Opportunity, a California nonprofit group, says Latinos are now fully represented at community colleges, but not at four-year schools.

“Once our students get to college, they are finding it very difficult to complete,” she states. “And a lot of that difficulty is because of institutional barriers that students will face.”

Dow says, for example, that flaws in many college assessment tests mean students are placed in remedial classes when they’re qualified to do college level work, which puts them behind.

She also points out that four-year schools have such varied graduation requirements that transfer students have a hard time navigating the system, and often drop out or require up to six years to finish.

Anthony Carnevale, a report co-author and director of the Georgetown University Center for Education and the Workforce, says Latinos who make it through college still aren’t reaping all the benefits.

“They’re not getting the same earnings for the same degrees as whites do,” he states. “That is irrespective of what major Latinos enroll in, what college they enroll in, whether they graduate in the end, they always make less than whites.”

The report also found that more than a third of Latinos in California have less than a high school education, and 62 percent have a high school degree or less, compared to 21 percent of whites and 32 percent of African-Americans.