Seven Southern California universities ranked in the top 20 in the nation in awarding bachelor's degrees to Latino students, according to a new survey by a higher education publication.
The study, conducted by the New Jersey-based Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education, with help from the U.S. Department of Education, tallied the degrees conferred to Latino graduates in 1993. Using those numbers, the group also ranked academic programs based on the number of Latinos who graduate.
Southern California schools in the top 20 include UCLA, which ranked fourth, Cal State Los Angeles, ranked sixth and Cal State Northridge, ranked 13th. Cal State Fullerton, San Diego State, Cal State Long Beach and Cal Poly Pomona were also ranked among the top 20.
In all, nine California universities made the top 25 along with schools in Texas and Florida.
Education experts point out the majority of the universities ranked are concentrated in states with large numbers of schools and substantial Latino populations.
California's large university system and well-established Latino population explains why the state dominated the top-rankings, said Hector Garza of the Washington-based American Council on Education.
Schools with strong minority retention programs that offer academic and social support systems, as well as a diverse faculty, are also more likely to graduate Latinos, he said.
Latinos remain underrepresented among those receiving academic degrees, according to a recent report by the American Council on Education. The report said they accounted for only 4% of bachelor's degrees and 3% of master's degrees awarded in the U.S. in 1993.
A senior Cal State University official said the new rankings are good publicity for the system--one of the nation's largest--but he cautioned that the raw numbers say little about how well the campuses recruit and retain Latino students.
"One thing is it's good to have a lot of graduates. We like this kind of statistic," said Philip Garcia, deputy director of the Cal State's system's analytic studies division. "But in another sense, we may be getting more credit than we deserve."
Garcia said the newly published rankings can be used to bolster federal grant requests for programs to aid Latino students.
Latino students in California are making progress. State statistics show Latinos earned 14.3% of the 65,620 undergraduate and graduate degrees conferred by Cal State schools in 1994-95, compared to 11.1% in 1992-93.
Even so, the proportion of Latino students who receive college diplomas lags behind whites and Asians, Garcia said. A recent national study by the American Council on Education found that among 18- to 24-year-olds, 33% of Latinos were enrolled in college, compared to 43% for whites and 36% for blacks.
The Hispanic Outlook report does not address graduation rates.
Garcia said Latino students remain an underrepresented group within the Cal State University system. Cal State campuses enroll about 9% of all high school graduates each year but only 6% of Latino high school graduates.
Within the Cal State system, one study found that among students who transfer from community colleges, Asian Americans and whites had the highest likelihood of either graduating or remaining enrolled after five years. Mexican Americans and other Latinos trailed, followed by blacks.
At Cal State Northridge, another study of first-time freshmen at the campus found that Mexican American students in fall 1992 were the least likely of any major ethnic group to return for a second year at the campus.
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How They Ranked
The top 20 colleges and universities ranked by the number of Latino students who earned bachelor's degrees in 1993:
1. Florida International University: 1,612
2. University of Texas at El Paso: 840
3. University of Texas at Austin: 835
4. University of California, Los Angeles: 812
5. University of California, Berkeley: 772
6. California State University, Los Angeles: 702
7. University of Texas Pan American at Edinburg: 682
8. University of Texas at San Antonio: 561
9. University of New Mexico, Main Campus: 550
10. San Diego State University: 543
11. Texas A & M University: 509
12. California State University, Fullerton: 469
13. California State University, Northridge: 445
14. University of Arizona: 437
15. Southwest Texas State University: 431
16. California State University, Long Beach: 427
17. California State University, Fresno: 421
18. New Mexico State University, Main Campus: 418
19. University of Miami: 397
20. California State Polytechnic University, Pomona: 370
Source: Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education