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Latino Students Increasing At Universities

Compiled By Yaffa Klugerman
January 5, 2010

Enrollment of Latino students is on the rise at universities in some states, and institutions are making efforts to attract even more.

The Des Moines Register in Iowa reports that Latinos are the fastest growing minority group at Iowa State University, the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa. At ISU, the numbers of Latinos rose 33 percent between 2004 and 2008, and now comprise just under 3 percent of undergraduates. At U of I, Latinos make up 3.2 percent of the student population, and their numbers are increasing at twice the rate of Asian students, who currently represent the largest minority at the university. And at UNI, Latino enrollment doubled in 10 years and they now comprise 2.2 percent of the student population.

"The future of higher education in Iowa is becoming much more diverse," noted ISU Professor Laura Rendon, chairwoman of the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and a Latina who was quoted by the Register. "We cannot continue to work in silos--whites with whites, African-Americans with African-Americans, Latinos with Latinos. The new world order is calling for a new global consciousness on the part of individuals."

Latino enrollment has even risen at some more selective institutions. The Daily Northwestern reports that Northwestern University in Illinois admitted a record number of Latino early decision applicants this year--34 in all. Michael Mills, associate provost for university enrollment, attributed the increase to student organizations such as Clave, which targets prospective Latino students.

But Latino enrollment still has a long way to go. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Latino students currently make up about 5 percent of all students at Utah's public universities, even though they comprise about 12 percent of the population.

To address the problem, college-access advisers in Utah are focusing on paving the path to college for minorities, low-income and first-generation students through a program that is part of the National College Advising Corps. The advisers, who are recent college graduates, help high schools students with filling out college applications, applying for financial aid and registering for exams such as the ACT. The program is currently in 11 Utah high schools and more than 4,000 students have taken advantage of the service.

"Our population of students, they want to go, they just don't know how," explained Quill Phillips, a college-access adviser who was quoted in the Tribune. "They don't know how to get started."

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