Hispanic students ‘cluster’ in college

Hispanic students are more likely than other students to cluster at a handful of universities, and to choose those schools based on sticker price and convenience, according to a new survey being released today.

“The conventional wisdom on college choice is not conventional for these students,” said Deborah Santiago, vice president of Excelencia in Education, a think tank focused on Hispanic education.

The authors, who looked at federal data from the 2003-04 school year and interviewed more than 100 Hispanic students, found students were willing to skip out on the potential to attend more selective colleges and universities-even when financial aid was offered-because they wanted schools close to home that won’t require debt.

The study adds additional weight and detail to trends that have long been observed anecdotally. About half of all Hispanic students enroll in only 6 percent of the nation’s colleges, usually not realizing they have chosen a “Hispanic-serving institution,” according to the study.

Miami Dade College is the nation’s largest Hispanic-serving institution. Florida International University in West Miami-Dade, Nova Southeastern University in Davie, Fla., and Barry University in Miami Shores, Fla., are also on the list of schools with at least 25 percent Hispanic undergraduate students.