Making It in America
America is growing and changing, and the fastest growing minority group is the Hispanic population. The 2010 United States Census Bureau data shows the Hispanic population grew from 35.3 million people in 2000 to 50.5 million people in 2010. That increase accounts for more than half the population growth in America over the last ten years. The Hispanic community is going to continue to grow and contribute to our society in big numbers. It is important that they successfully complete their baccalaureate degree because higher education plays an important role in the economic development and leadership roles in the United States (Castellanos and Jones 149). Unfortunately, graduating from college as a Hispanic in America is difficult. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), in 2009 the percentage of Hispanic students enrolled in college was 12 compared to 62 of White students. Of that 12% only 8% graduated with a Bachelor’s degree compared to 71% of the White population. It is crucial to find out what factors prevent Hispanics from obtaining a degree and what changes need to be made to help them reach their goals. As the number of Hispanics enrolling in college increases, the resources colleges and universities provide should be increasing as well. It is clear that Hispanic students are trying to succeed in college; however, it is not their fault if they do not have the proper resources to utilize their full potential. Many students are the first in their family to attend college and that brings in different factors that make their transition into college difficult. Low socioeconomic status, infrequent interaction with faculty and administration, lack of guidance from family, and poor quality secondary education are some factors that make it difficult to ease into the college experience (Garcia 840). It is important for Hispanics to get a college education not only for themselves but for society and future generations. The first step towards college is getting to know what college is. Promoting college in elementary schools would be a great start to create awareness in the Hispanic communities. “A college education [should be] presented as an imperative rather than an option. ‘The message is: You will go to college’” (qtd Serrata in Mangan). I agree with this method because if it is commonplace and expected of the student then graduating college would be as expected as graduating high school. At Evangelina Garza Elementary School in Texas they have their teachers display their framed college diplomas. Also, once a month the teachers wear T-shirts with their alma maters. Celebrating college at a young age will instill a positive image of college rather than mandatory objective. When 10-year-old Christian Ortiz was asked why he saw college in his future he answered, “I want to live a happy life and not have any problems--but mostly to be a doctor” (Mangan). Children are aware of their surroundings and it is important to let them know that college will be a key aspect in maintaining a comfortable life. If they see their parents struggle with money they should be told that a college degree will open up new job opportunities that will allow them to live without those struggles.
A common problem among Hispanic college students is the low socioeconomic status their families come from. “Having limited financial means has been associated with higher attrition rates for Latina/os. Latina/os tend to experience greater levels of stress associated with financial concerns than White students” (Castellanos and Jones 5). Financial aid is beneficial to students, but bringing awareness to it will make a huge difference. Since most students are the first in their family to attend college, they are unaware of the financial aid applications and timelines. Schools can offer workshops early summer, both on campus and in Latino communities, which teach students step-by-step instructions on how to...
Cited: Cortez, Laura J. "A Road Map To Their Future: What Latino Students Need To Graduate."
Chronicle of Higher Education 58.6 (2011): B21-B25
Garcia, Mozella. "When Hispanic Students Attempt To Succeed In College, But Do Not."
Community College Journal of Research & Practice 34.10 (2010): 839-847
Mangan, Katherine. "Educators Start Early To Create A College-Going Culture Among
Hispanics In Texas." Chronicle of Higher Education 58.6 (2011): B4-B7
Valverde, Leonard A. The Latino Student’s Guide to College Success. Westport: Greenwood
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