Why You Should Go to Grad School

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Why You Should Go to Grad School

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POSTED ON Jun 28, 2017

Excelencia in Education (Excelencia) and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) say that the 2015-16 academic year saw continued growth in the number of Latinos attending college.

As a result, there is an increase in the number of Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) in the United States.

In general, HSIs have 25% or more Latino enrollment. In 2015-16, 14% of all institutions of higher education (472 HSIs) enrolled 64% of all Latino undergraduates.

Yet, not enough Latinos are earning science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) credentials.

In an earlier report, Excelencia found:

• The number of Latinos earning credentials in STEM increased, but Latinos still earned a small percentage of credentials conferred in STEM.
• Latinos working in STEM are concentrated in lower paying jobs, and Latino representation is higher among STEM service than professional occupations.
• Latinos earned credentials in STEM at a relatively small number of institutions. At the undergraduate level, many institutions identified as Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs).
• Latino degree attainment in STEM is concentrated at the baccalaureate level.
• Institutions can award a handful of degrees to Latinos and still rank among the top 25 at the graduate level.

“This analysis is straightforward: we know where Latinos are earning their degrees in STEM and we know what some of these institutions are doing to improve Latino success in STEM fields,” said Deborah Santiago, COO and vice president for policy of Excelencia in Education and primary author of the brief.

“What we need now is to help institutions and employers seize the opportunity to educate and employ more Latinos in professional STEM fields,” Santiago said.

“The data is clear. To meet our workforce and economic needs, America must accelerate degree completion generally and particularly in STEM fields,” said Sarita Brown, president of Excelencia in Education. “Forward-focused colleges, universities, graduate schools and employers should incorporate this analysis in their recruitment strategies.”

“STEM education with Latinos is more critical than ever in order to provide America with a value proposition,” said Jose Antonio Tijerino, president and CEO of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation. “We have always stepped up as a workforce to do what is needed, and what is needed today and going forward are skilled STEM workers, which starts with education. The Excelencia in Education report shines a light on the top 25 colleges meeting this challenge head-on but more importantly provides opportunities to increase Latino student success in STEM, which is the focus of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation.”

“The report shines a light on what many of us know to be true: That diversification within STEM post-secondary education, particularly among Hispanics/Latinos over the last decade, has been largely in the are of certificate/associate levels and diminishes at each successive level. The result is an increasing discrepancy in positions of leadership within the STEM workforce,” said Dr. Gabriel Montaño, research scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and president of the Society for Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS).

“The awarding of masters and doctoral degrees through private and research intensive institutions suggests a potential socioeconomic pattern that would be of significant interest to investigate further,” he said.

The top institutions awarding graduate degrees to Latinos in STEM  are:

Masters Degrees Awarded to Latinos in STEM Fields
1. Universidad Politecnica de Puerto Rico, PR
2. Florida International University, FL
3. The University of Texas at El Paso, TX
4. University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez, PR
5. University of Southern California, CA

Doctoral Degrees Awarded to Latinos in STEM Fields
1. Stanford University, CA
2. University of California-Berkeley, CA
3. The University of Texas at El Paso, TX
4. University of California-Davis, CA
5. University of California-Irvine, CA

Excelencia also examined evidence-based practices at institutions that improve Latino student success in STEM fields. Some of these include:

• Mathematics Intensive Summer Session (MISS), California State University – Fullerton, CA
• Diversity Programs in Engineering, Cornell University, NY
• Computing Alliance of Hispanic-Serving Institutions (CAHSI), University of Texas at El Paso, TX
• Biology Undergraduate Scholars Program (BUSP), University of California – Davis, CA
• ARMAS (Achieving in Research Math and Science) Center, New Mexico Highlands University, NM

“As the nation’s demographics continues to shift and as STEM skills and mindset continue to be embraced by employers, it is critical that state and federal policies be developed that can promote, replicate and monetarily support similar Latino-focused STEM programs that will provide our workforce the diversity it deserves,” said Andrés Henríquez, Excelencia in Education board member and former program officer with the National Science Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

In particular, the report highlighted El Paso Community College, Texas, and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

A robust partnership between El Paso Community College and the University of Texas – El Paso ensures that academic preparation leads to seamless transfer to its four-year computer science program. Counselors from UTEP are accessible to all EPCC students to facilitate matriculation, and peer mentors assist in student acclimation. Additionally, opportunities for employment through Student Technology Services serve as a successful tool for retention, enabling students to earn income while learning and practicing computer skills.

Administrators at Georgia Tech’s College of Engineering point to collaborative relationships with community colleges as part of their success. Through the Regents Engineering Transfer Program (RETP), Georgia Tech awards one-third of its engineering degrees to graduates who were not original matriculates. Community colleges in Georgia and Florida have taken part in the program, which includes customized campus visits, financial aid phone-a-thons, student-faculty mentoring, scholarships and fellowships through the Goizueta Foundation, and supporting Latino student organizations.

Finding Your Workforce is a project of Excelencia’s national initiative called Ensuring America’s Future by Increasing Latino College Completion. This initiative brings together federal, state, higher education philanthropic, business, Latino advocacy and community leaders to develop and use data tools and information to accelerate Latino degree attainment and overall student success in higher education.

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