Latino Student Enrollment in Connecticut Colleges


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By Brian Woodman Jr.

The Pew Research Center, a think tank funded by Pew Charitable Funds, released a study this fall stating that nationally a larger percentage of Hispanic high school graduates enrolled in college during the fall of 2012 than percentage of white students. Indicating, that Hispanic student college enrollment was going against the trend  according to U.S. Census figures which found that college enrollment in the United States declined by almost half-a-million.
In Connecticut, while Latino students are beginning to enroll in colleges in colleges, Hispanic student enrollment rate has almost tripled over 20 years, from 3.8 percent (6,334 ) in 1992 to
 Awilda Saavedra-Reasco, director of pre-collegiate and access services for Central Connecticut State University, said she and colleagues around the state have  been working to increase the numbers.   “Engaging families and incoming students at an early start will get them to seek for help and graduate at a college setting,” she said. “Latinos continue to cherish education and want their children to succeed. Our Latino faculty and administrators are devoted to students and share their own achievements. You will find more Latino and Latina professionals in private and public schools urging Latinos to apply to colleges. We have established strong partnerships with the community.”
Despite gains, fewer Latinos students as compared to white students are still actually enrolling in college, according to spokespersons for the state Department of Education.  About 68 percent of the high school students in Connecticut that graduated in 2012 immediately enrolled in college that fall, said CT Board of Education communications director Kelly Donnelly.  She added that 51 percent of the Latino and Hispanic graduates enrolled as opposed to 73.5 percent of the white graduates.
“Latino families and urban communities have become more aware of higher education and the importance of obtaining a college degree,” said  Reasco.
“I direct a program call Connecticut Collegiate Awareness Preparation Program (ConnCAP) for New Britain students from grades eight through 12,” she said. “We provide them with academic, tutorial and personal support during the entire academic year and offer mandatory six-week summer courses for these students who have the potential to attend a college.”
Reasco also emphasized the importance of parental involvement.  “Monthly parent meetings are held at the middle and high schools and three meetings are conducted on the college campus,” she said. “The objectives are to expose higher education to Latinos at an early stage. In addition, seeking for scholarships and introducing Financial Aid is essential. We speak Spanish to the families if they request it.”
For the second year in a row, Latino students are also the largest minority group at state colleges, according to Latino & Puerto Rican  Affairs Commission. While, almost 17 percent of the college students enrolled in Connecticut state colleges and universities in 2012 were Latino,  almost 63 percent where white.  However, the number of Latino students s was greater than other minority groups for that fall. Only 14.8 percent were African American or Black and 3.3 percent were Asian.
The combined minority enrollment for 2012 at both public sector and independent colleges was almost 50,000 and marked 30 percent of the total number of students enrolled in college, according to the Connecticut Office of Higher Education. The data referred to a 9 percent increase from 2011. Office spokespersons stated this was driven in part by a large number of undergraduates in the community college system.