Blacks, Hispanics Trail in Higher Ed; Women Lead

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Minorities in Higher Education 2010
American Council on Education

Higher education attainment rates for college-aged African-Americans and Hispanics have dropped across the board, according to this report from the American Council on Education, a nonprofit that represents college leaders.

The report – examining trends between 1988 and 2008 – notes that Hispanics, the fastest growing population in the United States, exhibit the lowest educational attainment levels among all racial and ethnic groups. Hispanic men were less likely to attain a degree than Hispanic women, and the disparity between the two is apparently growing.

Hispanics have made the largest gains in high school completion but still rank last among ethnic groups measured, with only 70 percent of the Hispanic population graduating with a high school degree.

Asian-Americans and whites lead in high school completion, college enrollment and degree attainment. Ninety-one percent of Asian-Americans and 88 percent of whites complete a high school degree, followed by African-Americans at 78 percent and American Indians at 71 percent. Asian-Americans were the most likely to complete a college degree, with persistence rates of 89 percent for four-year colleges and 67 percent for those who started at two-year institutions. This compares to the lowest degree persistence rate, held by African-Americans, 73 percent of whom will finish a degree at a four-year college and 47 percent at a two-year college.

The report also says women lead men in attaining a college degree, and that each generation of women goes further in college than does the last generation. In 2007, women earned about 62 percent of all associate degrees and about 57 percent of all bachelor’s degrees. The study also indicates that women now earn more graduate degrees than do men. Although men continue to outnumber women in bachelor’s degrees in fields related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, women outnumber men in biological and biomedical sciences, as well as in most fields outside of the sciences.

Today’s whites continue to go further in college than do their previous generations, but the report attributes this improvement entirely to women.