Latino Students Excel at Selective Institutions, Study Finds

In a recent analysis, the nonprofit organization Excelencia in Education found that Latino students at selective institutions graduate at significantly higher rates than their counterparts at less-selective four- and two-year institutions. The report, “From Selectivity to Success: Latinos at Selective Institutions,” examines reasons for their relative success and attempts to identify translatable best practices.

Data also show that these more selective institutions — which are defined as having higher admissions requirements, accepting fewer than 50 percent of applicants and representing 10 percent of all institutions — have more financial resources to spend per student.

Excelencia’s analysis shows [that] these institutions invest significantly in the instructional, academic support, and student services of their students and have institutional practices intentionally serving Latino students,” Deborah Santiago, COO and vice president for policy at Excelencia in Education, said in a press release.

Although Latino students comprise only 12 percent of all students at these selective institutions, the report shows that they graduated at a rate of 68 percent during the 2013-2014 school year. At less-selective four- and two-year institutions that same year, their graduation rates were 47 and 17 percent, respectively.

Selective institutions also spend, on average, $8,100 more per full-time student than less-selective four-year institutions and $23,300 more per full-time student than two-year colleges.

The Excelencia study also examined four selective universities in California to identify best practices for supporting Latino student success. Based on the efforts by the University of La Verne; Stanford University; the University of California, Santa Barbara; and the University of California, Berkeley, the report recommends methods for helping ensure these students’ success. These best practices include using financial aid for retention, not just recruitment; supporting community and alumni efforts to reach Latinos; fostering a sense of community and offering supports through Latino/Chicano offices; developing students’ career skills through undergraduate research opportunities; and creating alumni networks to improve students’ chances of gaining employment.

The analysis was created with support from the Gilbert and Jacki Cisneros Foundation, an organization that works to support the academic success of Latino students.

“This research will allow us to work with the educational community to both model and implement these newfound practices at selective higher education institutions,” Gilbert Cisneros, president of the foundation, said in a press release. “With the right resources and support at colleges and universities throughout the nation, we can close the Latino achievement gap.”