Latino enrollment in colleges may surge
By Steve Giegerich
With Latinos graduating from high school in numbers that will keep increasing for
years, the head of a higher education group that released a new report on the trend
says colleges need to step up efforts to accommodate the nation's largest minority.
The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education projects that Latinos
will account for 21 percent of the country's public high school graduates in 2008, up
from 17 percent in 2002.
"In general, colleges are still not prepared," said David Longanecker, executive
director of the interstate commission. Its report, "Knocking at the College Door," is
released every five years and is used by local school districts, states and higher
education to track enrollment trends.
Using data compiled from the nation's leading test-makers, the U.S. census and
other sources, the WICHE study projects a significant regional shift in the school-age
population to the South and West.
In 2007-08, Southern states are expected to enroll 16.7 million students in
kindergarten through high school. WICHE said enrollment in Western schools will be
11.9 million in 2007-08, followed by 10.8 million in the Midwest and 9.3 million in the
Because of continuing gains in Latino enrollment, the report said, white students
will represent a minority of graduates from Western high schools in 2013-14.
Latinos often bring special circumstances to school, said Richard Fry, a senior
research associate with the Pew Hispanic Trust.
Latinos are less likely to attend college full time and are more likely to work so
they can provide financial support to dependents, Fry said.
"In order to help these students receive degrees, . . . you have to help them
negotiate their work lives, their family lives, as well as their academic lives," Fry said.