In the United States, COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on the Latino/e community’s education. After a 30-year increase in college enrollments, attendance and graduations have declined since 2020.
According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, there was a 5.4 percent drop in Latino undergraduates in the Fall of 2020.
“Our country has an urgent need and opportunity to correct this long-standing issue so that Latino students—and all students— can resume their progress toward achievement in school and the workplace and fulfill their potential as key players in America’s future well-being,” Janet Murguía, President and CEO of UnidosUS, the largest Latino nonprofit advocacy in the U.S., said.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, many students’ families suffered income shortages and had to drop out of college to take on childcare roles, provide for their families, or both. It also affected many families’ access to learning English.
The issue is becoming a hot topic of discussion in some of America’s biggest cities.
Illinois colleges and universities, for instance, are beginning efforts to encourage more Latinos to attend college. “Hispanic-serving institutions have pivoted to make sure that they listen and learn from the students and their families. They’re going back to those initiatives and strategies that proved effective,” Inés Sahagún-Bahena, the director of National Louis University’s Centro de Excelencia, said.
Although the number of jobs that require a college degree is decreasing, a college degree is still a milestone many pursue, especially in our community.
The hope is that college enrollment gets back on track. Universities must pivot their efforts to better understand the challenges potential and current Latino/e students have faced as a result of the pandemic.
The pathway to college or higher education is different for everyone. Some may get the opportunity to go directly into a four-year program, while others enroll in community college. The good news is that every path is valid.