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Latino High School Grads Enrolling in College at Record Rates, Outpacing Whites

Latino students have reached a new milestone in the United States: A higher percentage who graduate from high school are enrolling in college than white students.

In the class of 2012, a record 69 percent of Hispanic high school graduates went on to pursue higher education, compared with 67 percent of white graduates, according to a report released today by the Pew Research Center in Washington. In 2000, just 49 percent of Hispanic high school graduates enrolled in college the following fall.

While Latinos made up just 11 percent of high school graduates in the Class of 2000 (or 300,000 students), they comprised 22 percent of the most recent class (or 697,000 students) in 2012.

Overall, 66 percent of high school graduates in the class of 2012 enrolled in college, including about 63 percent of black students and 84 percent of Asians.

More young Latinos are staying in high school. In 2000, nearly 28 percent of Hispanics age 16 to 24 had dropped out of high school, but in 2011, the figure was just 14 percent, Pew reports. The dropout rate for white students was 7 percent in 2000 and 5 percent in 2011.

Still, Latino students tend to have a different experience once they leave high school from their white counterparts.

While 56 percent of Hispanic high school graduates study at a four-year college, 72 percent of white students do. The Pew report found that Latino students are less likely to attend a selective college or enroll full time—78 percent of Hispanics vs. 85 percent of whites.

Those factors have led to lower completion rates for this growing minority group. Among white Americans age 22-24, about 22 percent have a bachelor's degree compared with 11 percent of Latinos in that age group.

The Pew report notes that recent high school graduates are only a subset of youths, and the findings don't imply that young Latinos are more likely to attend college than young whites. Some students drop out of high school in earlier years or never enroll in U.S. schools.

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