Latinos are the largest minority in college but Latino men are not making it to college or through college
Although women’s success, voice and visibility are usually the platforms for which I advocate, one area that I am equally passionate about seems to have more of a need for the mom of two boys and life-long higher education professional than the staunch women’s advocate. There is a silent crisis facing a segment of our Latino community that I am not sure many are aware of. While there is good news, namely, that Latinos are now the largest minority in College according to a recent U.S. News report which is certainly something to acknowledge and celebrate, one stark reality staring us in the face, this silent crisis is that our young men are not making it to college or through college.
The pressing reality is that Latino males lag significantly behind their female peers in terms of both college access and degree attainment. While I love the fact that more and more Latinas are going to college and graduating; I am very concerned about our Latino males and the fact that while they make it out of high school they don’t make it to college and when they do, they usually drop out.
According to a 2015 NBC News report, Latino young men graduate at the highest rates in Alaska (82 percent), Maine (81 percent), West Virginia (79 percent), New Jersey (77 percent), Missouri (76 percent) , Kentucky and Tennessee (74 percent), Idaho, Iowa and Wisconsin (73 percent) yet these states also have the lowest Latino enrollment in college.
Education research offers evidence of the challenges that Hispanic students face in navigating the many transitions to a postsecondary education experience. Challenges often stem from lower family income and parental education levels poor academic preparation and lack of access to information about the college-going process. Other scholars have focused on student success, noting that Latina/o students often rely on familial and community support as well as extended social and family networks to persist in higher education. Latina/o student retention is further influenced by how well students are provided with ongoing cultural validation and positive mentoring experiences.
I tell my son this all the time, in today’s global economy, a high quality education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity it is a prerequisite to success contrary to the Bill Gates of the world.
Over the next decade, most new job openings in the U.S. will require some workforce training or postsecondary education. In Florida alone, I see a Bachelor’s degree needed to be a receptionist!! And of the thirty fastest growing occupations in America on the Occupational Outlook Handbook, half require at least a four-year college degree.
Therefore, dealing with this crisis and closing this college attainment gap is critical to restoring America’s standing as a global leader in higher education and more importantly, providing an able work force for the future, a workforce that have been trained to be critical thinkers, competent writers and technologically literate.