DEMOGRAPHICS AND CHARACTERISTICS OF CULTURAL AND LINGUISTIC LEARNER DIVERSITY



It is not surprising that institutions in the United States continue to reflect the cultural and linguistic diversity that characterizes society in the main. In a larger sense, the increasingly encouraging numbers of previously underrepresented racial and ethnic groups now matriculating in higher education gives evidence of receptivity and accommodation by colleges and universities to students who are culturally and linguistically diverse. Data concerning racial and ethnic enrollment in United States institutions of higher education was published in The Chronicle of Higher Education Almanac (2005).

 

Colleges and universities are educating an increasingly diverse student

body and are preparing them for living in and contributing to a global

society. Many institutions of higher education are striving to be considered

inclusive by all students by demonstrating their commitment to diversity on

their campuses. Counselors in high schools, working in conjunction with

college admission officers, can help minority students move through the

college choice process and select institutions of higher education that

value diversity. It is up to university leaders to make sure that the campus

environment is as welcoming to minority students of color once they

matriculate as it appeared to be at the time of admission. (Elam & Brown,

2005, p.17 )

 

According to recent data published in the Chronicle of Higher Education (2005) illustrates the percentages and numbers of college enrollment by racial and ethnic groups in Table 2.

 

 

Table 2. College Enrollment by Racial and Ethnic Group (2002)

Enrollment %                   Number Enrolled

American Indian             1.0                                165,900

Asian                               7.0                             1,074,200

Black, non-Hispanic        12.0                             1,978,700

White, non-Hispanic       68.0                             11,140,200

Hispanic                         10.0                              1,661,700

Foreign                           4.0                                   590,900

Total Enrollment            100.00                           16,611,600

Proportion who speak a language other than English at home 13.8

It also important to note that International Students are now matriculating at U.S. colleges at increased rates. During the academic year 2002, 590,000 foreign students were enrolled in U.S. colleges. In 2000 and 2001, 528,000 and 565,000 foreign students respectively were enrolled in U.S. Colleges. In 2002, undergraduate foreign students numbered 316,000; graduate foreign students numbered 266,000; and professional students numbered 8,300. (The Chronicle of Higher Education, 2005)

Minorities in Higher Education

It was reported by the National Association of College Admissions (2005) that a greater proportion of minority students are enrolling in college than they were a decade ago. However, the attendance rate for students of color still lags behind the rate for White students. The Higher Education Twenty-first Annual Status Report (2005) indicates that between 1991-2001, minorities student enrollment rose to more than 4.3 million from 1.5 million, or an increase of 52 percent.

Another notable finding concerns the number of students of “unknown” race or ethnicity; including students who choose not to report their race or ethnicity to their institutions. This doubled to 938,000 from about 468,000 between 1991 and 2001.

Other findings indicate that college enrollment among Hispanics led all racial/ethnic groups, up 75 percent to more than 1.4 million students. The largest growth occurred at two-year institutions, where Hispanic enrollment grew by 82 percent, compared with a 68 percent increase at four-year institutions. Further, the gender gap continued, with Hispanic women exceeding Hispanic men in enrollment.

African-American enrollment grew to nearly 1.8 million students between 1991 – 2001, a 37 percent increase. Asian-American enrollment increased to more than 937,000 during the same time period, up 54 percent. American Indians enrollment grew by 35 percent, up from 110,000 to nearly 150,000.

Finally, college persistence rates among students who started their postsecondary education at four-year institutions rose from 51 percent to 54 percent during the time period, 1994 – 2000. Asian-American students had the highest rate of attaining a bachelor’s degree (62 percent) with five-years, followed by White students (58 percent). By comparison, 42 percent of Hispanics and 36.4 percent of African-Americans attained their degrees during the same period.

CULTURALLY AND LINGUISTICALLY DIVERSE HIGHER EDUCATION STUDENT CHARACTERISTICS

IMPLICATIONS FOR INSTRUCTION FOR CULTURAL AND LINGUISTIC LEARNER DIVERSITY