More Hispanic students are seeking educational opportunities after high school, with a notable upswing over the past decade in the percentage of Hispanics earning degrees. But the pandemic brought unfortunate setbacks to Hispanic enrollment, and a new study also reveals other alarming hurdles many Hispanic students face on their educational journeys.

Hispanic students are more likely to feel discriminated against than any other racial or ethnic group, the Lumina Foundation – Gallup State of Higher Education 2022 study found. Approximately 1 in 4 Hispanic students reported frequently or occasionally experiencing discrimination, harassment, disrespect, and feelings of being unsafe.

These distressing statistics underscore an urgent need to improve learning after high school for this fast-growing group of students.

A concerning trend among credential programs

Hispanic students pursuing short-term credentials, including certificates and professional certifications, are two to three times more likely to report negative experiences compared to those in associate or bachelor’s degree programs.

About 4 in 10 Hispanic students in these short-term programs indicated that they have experienced discrimination, harassment, disrespect, or feelings of being unsafe.

The surge in negative experiences within short-term credential programs is particularly troubling given the growing popularity of such programs, especially among students of color.

A profound effect on student success

Hispanic students who felt discriminated against or encountered other negative experiences were about twice as likely to consider leaving their educational pursuits.

This finding underlines the critical consequences that discrimination can have on students, and it adds to Hispanic students’ challenges to finishing their studies. Over half of Hispanic students overall have contemplated withdrawing from their programs—a figure that increased significantly in 2022.

A call to action

Education must be free from discrimination and harassment. Institutions, policymakers, and communities must work collaboratively to provide a safe and respectful learning environment for all students.

Here are a few ways colleges, universities, and credential programs can address the challenges faced by Hispanic students:

  • Strengthen policies for reporting, resolving, and protecting against issues of harassment and discrimination.
  • Embrace initiatives aimed at improving diversity and inclusion.
  • Provide mentorship programs, child care, and financial resources.

The path forward involves acknowledging the hurdles and actively working together to ensure that every Hispanic student has the opportunity to thrive.

[Courtney Brown, Ph.D., is vice president of impact and planning for Lumina Foundation, an independent foundation that works to help all Americans keep learning beyond high school. As chief data and research officer, Brown oversees Stronger Nation and assesses what those data mean for people and policies. Her partner on this project, Gallup, has been polling attitudes for more than 80 years. Gallup delivers analytics and advice to help leaders and organizations solve their most pressing problems.]

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