As the Obama administration aims to reach their college graduation goals by the end of the decade, attention turns to the over 50 million Hispanics in the U.S.
As the largest minority population in the country, Latinos college graduation rates will play a key role in the nation's quest to become the world leader in college completion by 2020. Hispanic students will need to earn 5.5 million certificates or degrees over the next several years for the U.S. to meet Obama's goal, according to Excelencia in Education's initiative, "Ensuring America's Future by Increasing Latino College Completion,". Excelencia in Education is a Washington, D.C.-based education research organization.
Socio-economic factors, however, limit Latino access to college and graduation rates.
"Over 40 percent of Latinos who are enrolled in college are the first in their family to go to college. And so you already have issues not just of enrollment but persistence to completion that require academic support," Deborah Santiago, Excelencia in Education's co-founder and vice president for policy and research, told The Huffington Post.
Earlier this month, the Pew Hispanic Center reported that Hispanics became the largest minority group on college campuses across the country--with 2 million Latino students enrolling in two-year and four-year college institutions in 2011.
Despite this increase, Latino high school and college graduation rates continue to lag behind those of other groups. The majority of Latinos who earn degrees also do not leave campus with degrees in fields with strong hiring prospects or high-earning potential. With many economists predicting that the nation's labor market will remain tepid for some time, the drive to expand the Hispanic college completion rate could benefit from aligning what more students study to workforce needs.
A close look at the related states of Latino education and employment, indicate that the outlook -- while improving -- remains far from promising:
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