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Executive Summary
The Context
for this Study
Enormous Diversity
Among Hispanic High
School Students
Obstacles to
College Attendance
and Completion
Success Stories
Afterword by
Deborah Wadsworth
Commentary by
Advisory Group
   Opening the
    by Arturo Madrid.

   Building a
   Consensus for
    by Alfredo G.
    de los Santos Jr.

   A Challenge and
   an Opportunity
   for Policy,
    by Marlene L. Garcia

   Low Expectations
   Equal Low
    by Jaime A. Molera

About the Author
About Public Agenda
About the National
Center for
Public Policy and
Higher Education

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Page 7 of 15


Other Resources

The following studies add to our understanding of Hispanic high school seniors and their parents.

John Immerwahr with Tony Foleno. Great Expectations: How the Public and Parents-White, African-American, and Hispanic-View Higher Education. San Jose, CA: National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, and Public Agenda, 2000. This national survey documents the importance that parents, and especially Hispanic parents, place on college education for their children.

Louis G. Tornatzky, Richard Cutler, and Jongho Lee. College Knowledge: What Latino Parents Need to Know and Why They Don't Know It. Claremont, CA: Tomás Rivera Policy Institute, 2002. This study focuses on the parents of Hispanic students, and documents the degree to which many are poorly informed about basic information regarding higher education.

Richard Fry. Latinos in Higher Education: Many Enroll, Too Few Graduate. Washington, D.C.: Pew Hispanic Center, 2002. This report reviews college participation statistics for Hispanic students and concludes that while many Hispanic students are enrolled in postsecondary education, most of these are following paths that are less likely to result in completion of a college degree.

Public Agenda and the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education began this study by asking why Hispanic students are less likely to attend and complete college, even though their parents seem to believe in the importance of a college education. Obviously, there are many factors, and lack of financial resources is surely one of the most important. But our research also points to the possibility of other obstacles that are less tangible and that have received less attention among policymakers. What our research suggests is that the decision to go to college requires a certain degree of knowledge, guidance, and even faith in long-term rewards over short-term gains. Hispanic high school students are hardly unique in their lack of information or failure to understand the long-term consequences of their actions. Yet they may be a somewhat distinctive group in their lack of support from knowledgeable, education-savvy adults who can help overcome this typical teenage deficiency. The success stories uncovered in this series of focus groups reflect the presence of strong adults, as the lost opportunities reflect the lack.

Our emphasis here has been on those Hispanic students we call the college-maybes, but it seems obvious that the non-college-bound students are also missing out in alarming ways. In today's high-tech, knowledge-intensive economy, many of these students need intensive academic remediation and some sort of postsecondary training if they are to find productive jobs and satisfying lives. Although we did not probe the specific needs of this at-risk group in this study, we did observe the same kind of misinformation and lack of adult guidance. Whether these youngsters displayed a lot of college potential or very little, the most common situation was that no one was helping them sort out their futures in any individual way. Too many were left on their own, and our fear is that too many will end up paying a price.


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