Study Shows Latino Students More Likely To Drop Out of College Than White Students

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Latino students face a greater challenge after being accepted into college-graduating.

A study done by the Pew Hispanic Center found Latino students are two times more likely than white students to drop out.

Forty-two percent of second-generation Latinos who graduate from high school go to college, but only 16 percent of those go on to graduate, stated the report released Thursday.

According to the UC Berkeley Office of Student Research, 27.3 percent of Latinos enrolled as freshman in 1995 either dropped out or did not graduate within six years.

Richard Fry, senior research associate of the center that conducted the study, said many Latino college students are the first generation in their families to attend college, which may make the academic experience overwhelming.

"There is a lack of familiarity in the Hispanic household with American higher education," Fry said.

Second-year UC Berkeley student James Valdez, who is the first in his immediate family to attend college, described his experience at a high-ranking university as "very intimidating."

"A lot of (Latino students) come from neighborhoods with other Latino students," said Valdez, who interns at the Raza Recruitment and Retention Center. "When they come (to UC Berkeley), they don't see that, and they get scared."

The study found community colleges are more appealing to many Latino students because they are less expensive than universities, require less time commitment and have more classes geared toward professional skills.

California has more Latino students in community colleges than any other state, Fry said.

But the report found low transfer rates of Latinos from community colleges to four-year universities.

According to the California Community College Chancellor's Office, 25.5 percent of Latino students at community colleges throughout the state transfer to four-year institutions after completing the graduation requirements of the universities to which they apply.

"A lot of Latino students rack up the credits, but don't come away with a degree or (credits) that are transferrable to a four-year institution," Fry said.

Various campus organizations aimed at the recruitment and retention of Latinos and other minority groups work toward alleviating the high college drop-out rates and low transfer rates from community colleges to four-year universities.

The Puente Project, sponsored by UC and community colleges, works on increasing enrollment in higher education for underrepresented minorities and helps students in community colleges transfer to four-year universities.

"(We want) to prepare them for the experience," said Christopher Rivers, publications manager of the Puente Project. "We're just not going to drop them off at Sather Gate and let them go to a class of 400 to 500 students, where they don't know where to get help."

Many of these organizations reach out to underrepresented minorities while they are in the process of applying to colleges.

"Without these organizations, I might've been able to get in to Berkeley, but I wouldn't have had all the information to apply," Valdez said.

Extended Opportunity Programs and Services is an organization that provides academic and financial support to community college students.

Hermia Yam, director of the program, said financial limitations or family obligations often prevent Latino students from earning their degrees.


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