According to a recently released Pew Research Center survey, the parents of black and Hispanic students are more likely than white parents to say it is important for their children to earn a college degree.
Survey results show that 86% of Hispanic parents and 79% of black parents with children under the age of 18 reported that it was either important or extremely important that their children earn a college degree. Meanwhile, only 67% of white parents felt the same way about their own children.
The authors suggest that this could be due to differing views in how a college degree effects a person’s ability to move up the economic ladder. While about half of Hispanic and black parents, at 49% and 43% respectively, say a college education is essential to being part of the middle class, only 22% of white parents said the same. However, white adults are more likely than black or Hispanic adults to already be included in the middle class or higher.
José Luis Santos of The Education Trust, a Washington, D.C. advocacy group that helps low-income and minority students, said he was not surprised by the findings, reports Greg Toppo for USA Today.
“Many of us in this business have been saying this for many years,” he said. “We don’t think that aspirations of black parents and their children, or Latinos and their children, are any different from whites … The issue is: How do we go from aspirations to actually moving through high school, getting to college and then graduating from college? Those are the bigger questions.”
Educational attainment and college enrollment have seen a dramatic increase from blacks and Hispanics, the largest minority group in the country, over the past two decades. This can be seen in the high school drop out rate for the two groups between the ages of 18 and 24, which reached record lows in 2014 at only 12% for Hispanics and 7% for blacks, down from 33% and 16%, respectively, in 1993, reports Renee Stepler for the Pew Research Center.
While college enrollment has increased for all races and ethnicities since 1993, the largest gains can be seen among Hispanic students. While there were 728,000 Hispanic students between the ages of 18 and 24 enrolled in a two- or four-year college in 1993, that number went up to 2.3 million by October 2014. For black students in the same age group, that number went up from 897,000 in 1993 to 1.5 million in 2014.
Despite the number of Hispanic students completing college having seen a dramatic increase which resulted in an all-time high in 2014, the group continues to lag behind other races and ethnicities. For adults between the ages of 25 and 29, 63% of Asians, 41% of whites, 22% of blacks, and 15% of Hispanics had earned a bachelor’s degree in 2014.
The authors suggest this gap to be due in part to the fact that Hispanic students are less likely to enroll in a four-year school than other groups are. In addition, they are less likely to study full-time or attend an academically selective school.
“It really seems like there’s something aspirational there,” said Juliana Menasce Horowitz, associate director of research at Pew. “To me it makes sense that it’s the groups that don’t have this high educational attainment that say, ‘This is important to our children. Perhaps it’s not something that we were able to accomplish ourselves, but we want our children to have different opportunities than we had.’”