A new report from the nonprofit Pew Hispanic Center may be welcomed as a step forward in efforts to enroll underrepresented minorities--or as a call for work that still needs to be done.
The report, released last month, looked at Hispanic first-time, full-time freshman enrollment in the country's most heavily Hispanic states (Texas, Florida, California, New Jersey, Illinois, Arizona, and New York). Indeed, Hispanic enrollment in those places increased by an average of 24 percent between 1996 and 2001. In Florida, the number of Hispanic freshmen grew by more than 50 percent.
While more Hispanics are going to college, they may not be achieving the same levels of success as white students. The report noted that Hispanics trail behind white students in obtaining bachelor's degrees, and Hispanic four-year freshmen are less likely than white four-year freshmen to enroll in selective colleges. "There are some issues about knowing what you need to do to go through the [college application] labyrinth," says Richard Fry, the Pew senior research associate who penned the report. Fry attributes lagging rates to several factors, including educational preparation, and family backgrounds.
The Pew report was gathered through analysis of the U.S. Department of Education's Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), the only uniformly collected data on enrollments at colleges and universities. The fall 2001 IPEDS figures were the most recent available when the report was assembled. The full report is available at www.pewhispanic.org. --C.M.F.