Why go to college?
That’s an easy question to answer. In today’s fast-changing global economy, a college education is not an option but a necessity. This is true for all young people today, but especially for Latinos.
Each year, many Latino students become the first in their family to attend college. Without the experience of a college education, it’s hard for many parents to conceive of what’s necessary to make that dream come true. However, considering that college graduates earn twice as much as those who just graduate from high school, its worth the effort. But much more is at stake than that.
There are over 50 million Latinos in the U.S., composing 16 percent of the total population and a significant portion of the labor force. Between 2000 and 2010, the Latino population increased by 15.2 million, accounting for more than half of the 27.3 million increase in the total U.S. population. In the coming decades, Latinos will account for 60 percent of America’s population growth between 2005 and 2050.
We are a young population. There are 17.1 million Latinos ages 17 and younger in the U.S., more than 23 percent of this age group. In our public education system, Latinos are by far the largest minority group, numbering more than 12.4 million in the country’s elementary, middle and high schools. Currently, nearly 22 percent, or slightly more than 1 in 5, of all pre-K–12 students enrolled in America’s public schools is Latino.
Yet our students face many hurdles. Less than half of Latino children are enrolled in any early learning program. Only about half of all Latino students earn their high school diploma on time; those who do complete high school are only half as likely as their peers to be prepared for college. Just 13 percent of Latinos have a bachelor’s degree, and only 4 percent have completed graduate or professional degree programs. Overall, Latinos have the lowest education attainment level of any group in the U.S. And if we are to make the countless contributions to this country that we are capable of, that has to change. Education is the key that will open the door to our future.
In this guide, we provide the basic information every parent and student should know to graduate from high school, plan for college, get accepted to a four-year institution, and receive a college degree. Compiled by the editors of LATINO Magazine, it introduces you to experts from organizations like the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI), the Hispanic College Fund (HCF), the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) and the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF).
It also serves as an introduction to an exciting new online resource brought to you by Chevrolet, a bilingual website called CollegeforLatinos.com. Though the journey to a college degree may seem daunting, there is a tremendous amount of information available online to show you the way. CollegeforLatinos.com will help you access these resources to make the process easier for Latino students and their parents. We hope you’ll check it out and let us know what you think.
Above all, it’s important to aim high. According to Mariela Dabbah, inspirational speaker and author of Latinos in College, “You set your own expectations and limitations and you believe in them, You decide whether you are capable of achieving greatness or not. You decide if you are going to make a difference in this world or not. So make sure you set your expectations as high as your imagination will take you.”