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How Many Latino Students Are Enrolled in Selective Institutions?

Latinos are about 12 percent of students at selective institutions, but these places offer more resources and have higher Latino graduation rates.
Sponsors for Educational Opportunity Scholars
FILE PHOTO: Sponsors for Educational Opportunity Scholars at work in the classroom during the program’s Saturday AcademyBethany Bandera

There are few Latino students in highly selective colleges and universities though the good news is that the numbers are increasing despite the increased competition. Attending these institutions is valuable for many reasons, including higher graduation rates and the availability of more resources for Latino students, according to a new report released Tuesday by Excelencia in Education.

Of all Latino undergraduates, only 12 percent were enrolled in selective higher education institutions — universities that accept less than 50 percent of applicants.

"At a time when more attention is given to the benefits of attending a selective institution and these institutions look to increase the diversity of their student body, it is critical to look at how they contribute to Latino student success," said the report's authors, which include Excelencia in Education co-founder Deborah Santiago.

Although graduation rates at the most selective institutions are lower for Latinos than the rate for all students, Hispanics are more likely to graduate on time than if they attend a less selective two-year or four-year institution. In fact, the report found that the lower the college or university's admittance rate, the higher the graduation rate was for Latino students.

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There are over 4,900 institutions of higher education, but only 503 were identified as the most selective ones in 2013-2014, according to the report. Of these most selective ones, only 17 of them had Latino enrollment of more than 25 percent or higher, (Hispanic-serving institutions).

During that same time frame, the most selective institutions had average expenses of about $36,600 compared to $28,500 at other four-year institutions and $13,300 at two-year institutions. Yet these selective institutions are able to give larger financial aid packages to students.

Excelencia in Education reached out to four of the most selective institutions in California — University of La Verne, Stanford University, University of California at Santa Barbara and University of California at Berkeley — to conduct research and get additional data into institutional efforts to aid Latino students.

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Findings showed that those institutions have diffuse efforts to support Latino students throughout the school —among different departments and disciplines and through the use of Latino/Chicano offices, for example. Selective schools also provided more research opportunities for undergrads, which increased their experiences when they were applying for post-graduate programs or jobs.

These selective schools also harnessed their successful network of alumni to increase the recruitment and retention of Latino students and ensure their success.

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