An all-time high of 69 percent of Hispanics graduating from high school in 2012 enrolled in college that fall, according to analysis by the Pew Research Center . This is a greater proportion than that of white graduates from the same class, of whom 67 percent enrolled in college.
According to Pew, Hispanic college-going has seen a long-term increase, especially since the recession hit, whereas enrollment by white high school graduates has gradually declined since 2008.
In addition, the high school dropout rate among Hispanic 16 to 24-year-olds has been cut in half since 2000, when it was 28 percent, compared to 14 percent currently. The white high school dropout rate has also declined, albeit only two percentage points and from a lower base (7 percent to 5 percent).
Recent High School Dropouts (numbers in thousands)
Ratio of High School Completers to Dropouts
(Both tables from Pew Research Center)
Although they surpass white students in the percentage of high school graduates enrolling in college, Pew added, Hispanic graduates still lag behind in some aspects; for instance, Hispanic high school graduates have a 56 percent likelihood of enrolling in a four-year college, as compared to 72 percent for white graduates. They are also less likely than whites to be full-time students or earn a bachelor's degree.
Pew offers two possible explanations for the increased Hispanic enrollment: the worsening job market (unemployment among Hispanics 16-24 has increased seven percentage points post-recession, compared to five points among whites) and the emphasis Hispanic families are likely to place on a college education (according to two separate 2009 Pew surveys, 88 percent of Hispanics 16 and over agreed that a college degree is necessary for success, compared to 74 percent of Americans overall who said that).