While whites are skeptical about a college degree’s value, Latinos and blacks believe higher education is essential, writes Ronald Brownstein. The divergence shows up in a new College Board/National Journal Next America Poll.
Jason Parkinson, a 29-year-old electrician from Cleveland, doesn’t consider it much of a handicap that he never obtained a four-year college degree after high school. “It doesn’t do any good anymore,” he says. “You get a four-year degree, you work at a fast-food restaurant. You can go to trades and manufacturing…. I’m not big on going to college for a career that might not even be there in 10 years.”
Jose Stathas, a 47-year-old assistant to the owner at a pottery company in Buena Park, Calif., didn’t finish college either, but he believes he would be better off if he had. “I don’t have a four-year degree, and I’ve learned the hard way that it can affect how much you make,” he says. “It gives you opportunities to get jobs in the competitive marketplace we have now.”
Parkinson is white. Stathas is Hispanic.
“While minorities worry more than whites about affording the cost of higher education, they are more likely to see a payoff from the investment,” writes Brownstein.
Most Latinos, blacks and Asian-Americans said “young people today need a four-year college degree in order to be successful.” Slightly fewer than half of whites agreed.
Minorities were also far more likely than whites to say the economy would benefit if the United States meets President Obama’s goal of increasing by half the share of Americans with postsecondary degrees through 2020. “The higher the education mark, the more competitive we’re going to be in the world economy,” Stathas said. “There’s a lot of talk of the rise and fall of the U.S. Unless we step it up a notch, there are going to be parts of the world that eat our lunch.”
Minorities are more likely than whites to support spending more to improve the availability and affordability of higher education. ”Whites and Asians were far more likely than Hispanics and African-Americans to argue that the best way to control mounting student-loan debt is for colleges to hold down costs, rather than for government to provide greater financial assistance,” Brownstein reports.
California Latinos are completing high school and enrolling in college in record numbers, but college graduation rates remain low, according to a new report, The State of Latinos in Higher Education in California.
Expectations are high: 83 percent of Latino parents want their children to earn at least a bachelor’s degree. But only 11 percent of Latino adults have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to 39 percent of whites.
Latinos are expected to reach majority status in California by 2050, notes the Campaign for College Opportunity, which produced the report. “The math is clear,” said Michele Siqueiros, executive director of the Campaign. “If the California economy is to have the college-educated workforce it needs, we must find ways to significantly improve college completion rates among Latinos.”
“The good news is that this report confirms the incredible willingness and desire among Latino youth to go to college,” said Siqueiros. “Enrollment is high and growing. But too few Latino college students are completing a certificate or college degree. We are falling into a pattern of improved college access, without success.”
Compared to their white and Asian-American classmates, Latinos are less likely to enroll in a selective college or four-year university. They’re also less likely to enroll full-time and much less likely to earn a credential.
Seventy percent of first-time Latino college-goers in the state enrolled at a community college in 2012. Of degree-seeking Latinos who complete six units and attempt an English or math course, 40 percent earn a certificate or associate degree or transfer within six years, estimates a scorecard created by the California Community Colleges. That includes nearly 65 percent of “prepared” Latinos and 35 percent of “unprepared” Latinos. However, only 20 percent Latinos earned a credential or transferred, according to the Campaign’s 2010 study. Researchers looked at students who’d earned six units, regardless of math or English attempts.
To close the college gap, the Campaign for College Opportunity recommends creating a statewide higher education plan with benchmarks for increasing Latino enrollment and completion rates, and for decreasing time spent in remedial education. “We’ve looked at Texas, which is very aggressive at articulating goals, college by college,” said Siqueiros in an online press conference.
Fund colleges for both enrollment and success — Establish a new funding mechanism that creates incentives for increasing graduation and completion rates.
Get everyone on the same page — Improve coordination between high schools and colleges on college preparation and assessment.
Invest in services students need to succeed — Prioritize resources that support student success and completion, including orientation, counseling and services to close information gaps for low-income, first-generation Latino students.
Strengthen financial support options for students — Ensure that all eligible students apply and receive federal and California student aid for which they qualify.
“Access is not enough,” said Siqueiros.
Leticia Sanchez hopes to qualify for a high-tech job so her farmworker mother can retire, reports NPR in Out Of The Fields And Into Computer Science Classes. Sanchez grew up in California’s Salinas Valley, the “Salad Bowl of the World.”
She signed up for CSIT-In-3, a three-year bachelor’s degree program in computer science and information technology. California State University, Monterey Bay, and Hartnell Community College created the for young adults in the Salinas Valley who don’t fit the traditional profile of a programmer.
Most of the students are Latino and about one-third are women. To boost the success rate, CSIT-In-3 designs each student’s schedule, says co-director Sathya Narayanan. ”In the beginning of the semester, they will be told what classes they are going to be in. You focus on your academics. You focus on studying.”
Splitting classes between the community college and a four-year school — and finishing in three years — keeps the cost of the degree under $12,000. Most students receive full scholarships.
Without that financial help, 18-year-old Mateo Sixtos would have to continue working in the fields while going to school, and that would make finishing in three years unlikely.
“Agriculture is a hard thing,” Sixtos says. “It’s 10 hours every day under the sun, and it’s very difficult because your back is hurting all day.”
Students must maintain a B average. ”It’s not enough that the students graduate,” co-director Joe Welch says. “It’s a success if they graduate, and Google is standing at the doors.”
The youngest and fastest growing population group in the U.S., Latinos now account for more than 20 percent of K-12 students. However, in 2012, 21.3 percent of Latino adults had earned an associate degree or higher compared to 40.1 percent of all adults. Excelencia in Education‘s national initiative, Ensuring America’s Future by Increasing Latino College Completion, is focusing on community colleges, because that’s where most Latinos start — and end — their pursuit of higher education.
In a new report, “Supporting Latino Community College Students: An Investment in Our Economic Future, Excelencia and Single Stop USA describe how innovative community colleges are changing financial aid and studentservices to help low-income students — including many Latinos — stay in college.
. . . many Latino students are the first in their family to attend college and make choices to contain costs by enrolling at community colleges, attending part-time, and working more than 20 hours per week while enrolled. Unfortunately, data show all these practical choices by students hinder their college completion.
Too few Latino students know there are resources available to assist with college costs. They are also less likely to access financial resources like tax credits, food assistance, and public health insurance that can enable them to maintain a stable family budget while enrolled. Single Stop USA and its community college partners connect thousands of students to millions of dollars in existing benefits and services that immediately reduce the financial strain faced by Latino students.
Single Stop sites at 17 community colleges help students file their taxes, apply for government benefits, and receive financial and legal counseling. Thirty-eight percent of students served in 2012 were Latino.
The report recommends:
Federal policy makers can utilize Higher Education Act reauthorization to incentivize colleges to implement student services that are well aligned with retention, completion and employment outcomes, such as the models being developed by Single Stop.
Complement investments in financial aid by providing student support services that address multiple barriers that can thwart Latino student completion.
Improve targeting of information regarding financial aid by intentionally developing dissemination strategies that will more effectively reach Latino, low-income and other post-traditional students.
Address antiquated eligibility rules that disqualify needy students from receiving aid that can help them complete college and attain self-sufficiency.
“America’s future economic success is deeply connected to Latino college completion,” says Eduardo J. Padrón, president of Miami Dade College, which is working with Single Stop.
California community colleges could add courses in short summer and winter sessions — if students pay more, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. A bill that passed the Assembly this week would let colleges charge non-resident rates — $200 per unit — for new classes instead of the usual fee of $46 per unit.
Students who pay more for a high-demand class would free up spaces for other students during the regular semester, Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara, said. ”We must recognize the reality that the existing system is not meeting students’ needs,” he said.
The Faculty Association of California Community Colleges and several community college districts opposed the bill, saying it’s unfair to low-income students.
“If you fear a two-tiered system, I’ve got to wake you up: It’s already here,” Williams said. “There’s one tier that can get in and one tier that is locked out.”
After years of cutbacks, two-thirds of community colleges are offering more courses this summer, according to the chancellor’s office. Last summer, enrollment and course offerings hit the lowest level in 15 years, but the passage of a state sales tax increase provided an extra $210 million to community colleges.
In recent years, the state’s community colleges have been hit by $1.5 billion in funding cuts and turned away 600,000 students, according to a report published in March.
The shortage of community college seats “could keep 2.5 million Californians out of the system over the next 10 years,” reports KPBS. Latinos, who are the most likely to attend community colleges, will be hit hard, said Deborah Santiago, who heads research for Excelencia in Education. “Community colleges are, from a sticker price perspective, more affordable and, because they are in the communities where these students live, therefore accessible,” she said.
The study measured students’ performance on the California Standards Test as high school juniors against their first year community college performance in four areas: the portion of the classes they took that transferable to the California State University system; the portion of remedial classes taken; and their grades in both types. In dramatically unsurprising findings. . . the authors found that students with the best scores on the CST had higher grades their first year in community college and were enrolled in fewer remedial classes.
One finding was surprising: “Regardless of their academic achievements in high school, Asian and white students consistently enroll in more transferable courses than their Latino and black counterparts do,” the study found. Whites and Asians in the bottom 25% of CST performance enroll in more transferable courses that blacks and Hispanics in the top 25%.
Latinos and blacks may have attended high schools with lower academic standards, start with less “college knowledge” and be sidelined by placement tests with cultural biases, Michal Kurlaender, an associate professor at the University of California at Davis’s School of Education, told Inside Higher Ed.
At Miami Dade College, pass-Math is boosting Latino pass rates in gatekeeper math courses, improving retention and reducing math anxiety. A program at LaGuardia Community College strengthens counseling to help Latino and other low-income students move from remedial to college-level courses. San Diego State’s peer Mentoring program (pMp) helps community college transfers handle the transition.
Only 21 percent of Latino adults 25 and older have completed an associate degree or higher, compared to 40 percent of all U.S. adults. More Latinos are enrolling in college — especially community college — but success rates are low.
The report spotlights a variety of programs.
The Mother-Daughter Program at Knox College (Illinois) counseled families on the importance of completing a degree. “Latino families make decisions together and an informed family is more supportive,” says Deborah Santiago, Excelencia’s vice president of policy. Some mothers decided to enroll in college after participating with their daughters.
Some programs target male Latinos, who have higher dropout rates. At Monroe Community College in Rochester, New York, Doorway to Success focused on improving male students’ study habits, engagement and retention. The Clave Latino Male Empowerment program at Union County College in New Jersey includes learning communities, a monthly lecture series, professional development opportunities and a social and professional support network for business and economics students.
College enrollment declined by .2 percent in the fall of 2011 — the first drop in 15 years — according to preliminary U.S. Education Department data.
Enrollment dipped 2.23 percent at community colleges and 7 percent at for-profit two-year programs.
During recessions, laid-off workers often enroll in college to learn new skills or wait for the economy to improve, notes Inside Higher Ed.
So it’s possible that enrollments are leveling off (and shrinking slightly) now because the economy had begun rebounding enough by fall 2011 that some of those who had flocked to higher education during the recession began finding jobs. It’s also possible that college tuition levels — which have continued to rise in recent years, driven in part by cutbacks in state support and other traditional sources of colleges’ revenue — are pricing more students out of higher education.
According to the new data, fewer whites are in college, but more minorities. Latino enrollment is up 6.42 percent.
For-profit colleges have lost students in the face of scrutiny about graduation rates, graduates’ job prospects and loan defaults.
The community college decline could be linked to long wait lists at California community colleges.
The drop in community college enrollment could be “the canary in the coal mine . . . a sign that higher education is losing its ability to serve as the primary vehicle for economic mobility,” warns Joni Finney, a Penn education professor, on The Quick and the Ed. ”It is hard to imagine that increased employment opportunities are the cause” of the shift from full-time to part-time studies, she writes.
Congress has refused to pass the Dream Act, which would offer a path to citizenship to young illegal immigrants who enroll in college or serve in the military. But today President Obama ordered a halt to deportations for people under 30 who arrived illegally before the age of 16 and lived in the U.S. for five years. Immigrants must be high school graduates or GED holders with no criminal record, be enrolled in postsecondary education or serve in the military. (Presumably college graduates would be eligible.) Immigrants who qualify will be able to apply for work permits.
While young immigrants won’t get a path to legal status and citizenship, they’ll be able to apply for a two-year “deferred action” that removes the threat of deportation for up to two years, with repeated extensions. “This is not immunity, it is not amnesty,” said Janet Napolitano, the homeland security secretary. “It is an exercise of discretion.”
The order will cover about 800,000 people, the administration estimates. Counting children under 18 with undocumented status, it will affect up to 1.4 million immigrants, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. It could persuade young Latinos to stay in high school or, at least, to earn a GED. Since many immigrants enroll in community college — and those who are’t in school can easily do so — the order could lead to an enrollment surge at community colleges.
California’s higher education system is not producing the college graduates the state needs to maintain its vitality, according to The Road Ahead: Higher Education, California’s Promise, and Our Future Economy. California Competes: Higher Education for a Strong Economy Council, a group of business and civic leaders, produced the report.
The state’s public and private colleges and universities will graduate more than three million students with bachelor’s degrees and technical credentials between now and 2025, according to the report. However, the state will need more than five million to stay economically competitive, leaving a gap estimated at 2.3 million.
The council proposes streamlining and strengthening community college management and restoring accountability for decision making to local boards and administrators.
The California Community College system office must be more flexible, responsive to changing conditions and accountable for ensuring student success. There must be a stronger advising system for students so they have greater clarity on how to attain a degree or credential. There must also be greater emphasis on completions and transfers to ensure that all students are working towards a specific goal.
In addition, the report calls for state policy makers to create an independent Higher Education Investment Board to help “the state better understand how to improve attainment rates for transfers, degrees and certificates across all colleges and universities.” The board would project the types of degrees needed in the work, develop strategies to meet those needs, working with system leaders.
For every dollar California spends on public higher education the state will reap $4.50 from taxes on the increased earnings of college graduates and lower costs for providing other state safety net services, according to California’s Economic Payoff, a new report by The Campaign for College Opportunity. For Latinos, who make up 45 percent of the state’s college-age population, earning a college degree raises income by $1.2 million over a lifetime, compared to a white high school graduate, the report estimates.
That could be overly optimistic. Graduation rates remain very low for California Latinos, who usually start in community college. And as college-going expands from highly motivated A students to B, C and D students, success rates usually fall.
The U.S. is “disinvesting” in higher education, writes Anthony Carnevale.