Tag: college

Plays Well with Others

We’ve heard a lot of shouting about “safe spaces,” and how liberal college students across America are pampered little snowflakes who crumble at the slightest sign of conflict… while simultaneously being violent thugs who will gladly pummel the first conservative they see.

Yes, like a lot of conservative tropes, this one relies on contradictory oversimplifications.

In any case, right-wingers are clearly not fans of higher education — or, it could be argued, of education in general.

Damn that ivory tower.

Valley News – Shawn Braley

However, for those conservatives who still value learning, knowledge, and non-alternative facts, there is good news.

A recent study has shown that there is a way to improve the effectiveness of elementary school education. Grade schools that possess one specific trait tend to have more productive students.

Yes, it turns out that the best way to make a campus safer for its students is to embrace that most feared of liberal schemes: Diversity.

You see, the study found that kids “who attend racially diverse schools feel safer, less lonely and less picked on than their peers at more homogenous schools.” And by the way, this was true of all kids, including the white ones.

The researchers say that the emotional well-being of children “is important because their state of mind affects their ability to learn” and that “if you’re afraid in school, you’re not even going to raise your hand in class.”

This makes sense, of course. But the news that racial diversity is good for all kids — not just ethnic minorities — is bound to upset some people, sort of like the fact that racially diverse movies tend to be bigger hits (which is true, by the way).

In any case, by embracing racial diversity in education, we can do what’s right for kids while acknowledging a simple fact about changing demographics — a double whammy of societal goodness.

Wow, it’s never that easy. So let’s savor this one.

 


Strike Two

So we’ve established that Republicans have trouble attracting younger voters, and as a highly related tangent, we’ve pointed out that a lot of those pesky Millennials are Latinos. Hence, young Hispanics are not exactly lining up to vote Republican.

But as is often the case for the GOP, things are never so bad that they cannot get worse.

You see, when Trump crowed about how much he loved the poorly educated, he was just speaking the truth. Less-educated people make up an important constituency for the Republican Party.

In fact, “highly educated adults — particularly those who have attended graduate school — are far more likely than those with less education to take predominantly liberal positions across a range of political values. And these differences have increased over the past two decades.”

Basically, the more fancy book learnin’ you get in ya, the more likely you are to start talking more of that lefty commie crap.

welleducated

And who are these well-educated liberals? Well, we all know about the education gap. White people are more likely to have advanced degrees and attend prestigious universities.

But Latinos are making tremendous progress. No doubt you know that Hispanics are the largest ethnic minority group on U.S. university campuses, and that by some measurements, Latinos are even more likely than whites to attend college.

Although this comes with the caveat that Hispanics are more likely to be attending community colleges or two-year institutions, it is undeniable that Latinos are making huge inroads in education. In fact, over the last twenty years, the number of Hispanics enrolled in some kind of college has surged more than 200 percent.

So we have yet another reason why Latinos are not feeling the love for the GOP. We are becoming better educated and more likely to align with liberal values.

Hispanics go off to college and discover that climate change isn’t a hoax and that the gay people in their dorm are actually pretty cool and that the wealth gap can be analyzed in Econ 101.

All that gives conservatives the heebie-jeebies. And once again, it is Latinos who are doing the heebie-jeebing.

But is there a final reason why young Hispanics are dismissing the Republican Party? Hey, it wouldn’t be much of a trilogy of posts if I didn’t have a concluding chapter.

That’s coming next week.


Dropping Back In

Whenever some data point or statistic about Latinos in America gets published, it is most likely grim. Whether you’re talking about household income, unemployment rate, educational status, media representation, or some other indicator of societal pull, it probably is bad news for Hispanics.

Well, there is some good news for once. In a sign of hope, the nation had its lowest high school dropout numbers last year, and in large part this was because of a steep decline in the dropout rate among Latino students.

graduation

The Latino dropout rate reached a record low of 14% in 2013. As recently as 2000, it was 32%. For you non-mathematically inclined, this means that just over a decade ago, about one out of every three Hispanic kids didn’t graduate. That is beyond abysmal. It is pandemic.

So while the dropout rate for Latinos is still double the overall rate of 7%, this is a positive development. And the surge is even more significant since the number of Hispanic students has increased steadily over the years. Yes, in terms of pure numbers, more Latinos than ever are graduating from high school and enrolling in college.

So don’t tell me I never have something positive to tell you.

 


The Beaten Generation

Yes, I’m a proud member of Gen X, in all it’s cynical, world-weary, Nevermind glory.

nevermind

However, Gen X is being pushed off the stage by those pesky Millennials. And what do these interlopers look like (particularly the Hispanic ones)?

Well, Latinos age 18 to 34 are focusing on getting themselves educated. However, they are not so interested in setting up their own homes.

These insights come from a recent study that found Millennial Hispanics “are almost 20% more likely than non-Hispanic whites in the same age group to reside in a multigenerational household.” That means more young Latinos are stuck living with mom and dad. They’re also getting married later. About a third of “Hispanic young adults today are married — down 17% since 2008.”

But they are going to college. Almost half (49%) of Hispanics 18-24 are enrolled in college, and this is “a higher enrollment rate than non-Hispanic whites (47%).”

So if Gen X Hispanics must make way for Millennial Latinos, at least we know they will be well educated. Now if they could just get out of their parents’ basements.

 


The Education of La Gente

In an earlier post, I wrote about my experiences as one of the few Latinos on my college campus, back in the day. At that time, the percentage of Hispanics at my alma mater was less than two percent.

In the years since, it has gone up, which is part of a larger, welcoming trend. Although Hispanics continue to be rare sight on American campuses, the number of young Latinos who are giving it the old college try is on the upswing. Some estimates say that about 12 percent of college students are Hispanic, which isn’t far off our proportion in the general population (currently at 15 percent and rising).

Furthermore, according to the U.S. Department of Education, 27 percent of Latinos ages 18 to 24 are enrolled in college. That’s apparently the highest the number has ever been, although it still pales in comparison to the percentage of young whites (43 percent) and blacks (33 percent). I don’t know the percentage of young Asian Americans in school, but let’s face it, I’m sure it’s impressive.

So more Hispanics are signing on for student debt and hitting on sorority girls and drinking too much on Thursday nights and living in shitty apartments with roommates who have loud sex with strangers in your bed… Sorry, I got a little nostalgic there.

One reason for the increase in Latino attendance is simple demographics. As Hispanics continue to assimilate into the general population (and assimilation is indeed underway, regardless of what you’ve heard on talk radio), they are more likely to adopt the cultural advantages of the majority. The chance to attend college, of course, is one of the biggest pluses of being American.

A lot of young Latinos see higher education as a natural extension, or as a clear benefit to their lives. Previous generations, including my own, were more likely to view going to a university as something for rich white kids, or as a laughable proposition that they were foolish for even considering.

When I was younger, several of my Latino peers even proclaimed that it was “selling out” to move past the twelfth grade. The implication was that choosing ignorance and poverty was a noble cause for La Raza. Today’s generation of young Latinos is far more likely to view this sad justification as the self-defeating prophesy that it is.

Another factor for increased Hispanic attendance is that major universities are more likely to actively recruit young Latinos. This is primarily because society has become more accepting of the idea that not everybody is white (well, most of America has, at least). But it’s also simple economics. A larger percentage of young people today are Latinos. As I’ve written many times before, Hispanics are the fastest-growing segment of the population. Therefore, if colleges want to continue to get students to fork over tuition, they must reach out to Latinos.

I’ll just mention that when I was eighteen and trying to pick a school, most universities’ minority outreach consisted of mailing out a pamphlet on the importance of diversity. And most of the time, all the pictures were of black people.

The fact that more Latinos are attending college offers one final interesting factoid. Hispanics who attend universities are now more likely to actually go away to college, as their white and black peers do, than they were in the past. According to the LA Times, “since 1975, the share of Latino freshmen at four-year colleges who choose schools more than fifty miles from home has risen to nearly 59% from about 46%.”

Of course, leaving one’s family provokes conflicting feelings within Latinos. Because many of us are first-generation, we can still access our parents’ immigrant roots. We can comprehend travelling great distances to start new lives.

However, the tight bonds of the traditional Hispanic family often clash with the individual’s need for fulfillment. At such times, will the biggest obstacle to a Latino going away to college be a guilt-tripping father or a perplexed abuela or a needy cousin?

It’s difficult to say. But I’m sure that for many of next year’s Latino college freshman, calling mom every day will be a top priority.


Classes Are Never Cancelled for Cinco de Mayo

When I graduated from college, I was one of about 500 Hispanic students on campus. At that time, the undergrad population of my alma mater was almost 30,000 people (yes, it was a big school). So Latino representation was less than two percent. For the other 98 percent of the students, spotting a Latino undergrad was about as likely as picking up a Phi Beta Kappa supermodel at a Metallica concert.

In my four years of college, I met only two other Hispanic students, and I didn’t become close friends with either of them.

One was a Chicano guy who worked with me at a campus laboratory, where our jobs consisted of washing test tubes and wiping down centrifugal-force machines. He didn’t talk much, and seemed, in fact, to be actually resistant to speech, like it was against his principles. This was unfortunate because it was a boring job and there wasn’t much to do besides scrub, talk, and ponder how many carcinogens you were inhaling.

The other Hispanic was a Puerto Rican woman who, while clearly intelligent, was unparalleled in her capacity to be humorless. She was not just angry most of the time; she exhibited eye-popping rage. Woe to the professor who disagreed with her verbose insights. Every comment in class was provocation for her to start a metaphysical debate that featured vocab-dropping like “fecundity” and “juxtaposition” and “vis-à-vis,” all delivered in a mesmerizingly earnest and fierce tone. The last time I saw her, she attempted to draw me into an argument over the true definition of art, as if the two of us would come to a definitive conclusion if we were just intensely serious enough about it.

I can’t tell you if these two individuals – a sullen loner and a confrontational intellectual – were representative of the Latino population at my school. Like I said, while I was there, I never met anyone else who was brown besides them and my own reflection in the mirror.

So does this discrepancy still exist? Hispanics are supposed to be taking over the country (I hear it all the time on talk radio, so it must be true). And will ivory towers be the last line of defense for ivory people?

Well, I am pleased to report that the latest stats from my alma mater (covering through 2006) show that Hispanic undergrads now number almost 900. That means there are almost twice as many Latinos on my old campus as back in the day (strangely enough, every last one of them is physically attracted to that cute blonde girl in Geology 210, but that will be the subject of another post). We even outnumber blacks on campus, which is really freaky.

The overall student population has stayed the same, so Hispanics have cracked the three-percent barrier… Well, I guess that arbitrary milestone is cause for celebration.

The larger question, of course, is why does a group that makes up 15 percent of America constitute only three percent of the students at a top university? Again, that will be addressed in a future post. For now, let’s just acknowledge that incremental progress is still forward motion.

All this statistical good news has made me reconsider the invitation I recently got from my university’s Hispanic Alumni Association. They want me to attend a campus reunion. It sounds like an exciting time.

I hear both members of the association will be there.


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