If there is one thing that characterizes Latino households, it is the importance placed on higher education. Coming from generations of hard workers with few opportunities, Latinos are accustomed to family pressure to pursue a college degree that offers opportunities our parents and grandparents may not have had.
And this family tradition is reflected in the presence of Latino students at national institutions.
According to figures from the Association of American Colleges & Universities, Latino students represent one of the fastest-growing demographic groups in higher education, particularly at a time when college enrollment nationwide has declined for eight consecutive years.
Hispanic students accounted for 19% of U.S. college students in 2016, up from 8% in 1996. Between 2000 and 2015, the number of Hispanic students graduating each year with associate’s or bachelor’s degrees more than tripled.
Last week, the University of California broke the record previously set by universities such as Austin’s Community College in Texas and announced that it had offered a record admission of Latino students to its nine undergraduate campuses for this fall.
As EdSource reported, students now make up the largest ethnic group of freshmen admitted to UC, rising from 34% last year to 36%.
The university system also increased the number of first-generation, low-income, and California community college transfer students admitted this year.
“This has been an incredibly challenging time as many students have been making their college decision in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic,” UC President Janet Napolitano said. “UC continues to see increased admissions of underrepresented students as we seek to educate a diverse student body of future leaders. The incoming class will be one of our most talented and diverse yet, and UC is proud to invite them to join us.”
UC increased its admission offers to underrepresented groups, including blacks and Latinos, by 4,678 for a total of 33,225, a 16% increase over last year.
Although the coronavirus pandemic changed the habits and priorities of students and faculty, the increase in Latino students admitted to institutions of higher education like UC is a positive and hopeful symptom for the future of the Hispanic community in the country.