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Latinos Going to College: The Need for Educational and Familial Support


Though there is a high rate of high school enrollment among the Latinos, the number of college graduates is still low compared to other ethnic groups in the United States. This can be attributed to the cultural practices and financial issues which affect many household in Latino families. Therefore, in order to address these issues both family and community support is needed so that many students can enroll for a four years college program. However, this research paper, analyzes the challenges which cause lower college competition among the Latinos. It also analyzes the education standard in Latino families and as an ethnic group and then compared to other groups in the United States. The research discusses what should be done to improve the number of a four year college enrollment. Finally, it provides recommendations on how to address the challenges so that many Latinos can enroll for a four year college degree.


Educational achievement among United States (U.S.) Latino has been changing systematically over the last years. There is rapid growth in the number of Latino enrolling for high school and slightly decline in the number of high school dropout. However, the number of Latinos graduating from a four years college is still low compared to other ethnic groups in the United States. Several studies have established that despite the decline of the number high school dropout, 60% of high school graduates do not enroll for a four year college degree. The number of high school to a four year college program is low compared to other ethnic like Asia and Whites and therefore, affects the number of college graduates among the Latinos (Lopez, 2012). It is argued that almost 40% of Latinos who fail to enroll for a college degree do not have enough finances to pay for college degree. It is an alarming trend which requires support to make sure that there is an increase in the number of high school graduates enrolling for a four years college degree courses among the Latinos. Studies have also shown that there is a high number of Latino students’ enrolment for a two year college program at community college compared to a four years program (Lopez, 2012). Therefore, in order to increase the number of students enrolling for a four year college degree program, there must a support from families which can ensure that students are taking their studies serious. Latino cultural practices must also be addressed to improve coordination between families and students so that they do not drop out of college.

Figure 1: The post secondary enrollment by race and ethnicity.

Figure 2: college enrollment by race and ethnicity

Latinos’ culture is nurtured in such a way that families live together for a long time. It makes it impossible for the first generation college students to survive away from college and this encourages students to register for college within the neighborhood. It reduces chances of Latino students registering for a four year college degree away from home. According to Lopez (2012), this reduces chances of students enrolling for a college and therefore, it is one of the bottlenecks which needs support to be addressed so that Latino students can pursue education with being held back by culture which affect education standard of the community. Latino college students need support from their families to adhere to U.S. education system and standard.

Research has also indicated that the rate of college dropout among Latinos is also very high compared to other ethnic. It means that the number of Latino graduating from college is low and therefore, affects the economic status or condition of most Latino home. According to Krogstad (2016), the number of Latino having degree in the United States is low compared to African American, whites and Asia America and therefore, it reflects in the job market as well. Studies have shown that Hispanics are registering in large numbers for high school degree but the enrollment for a four year college degree is low. Despite the low enrollment for four year college degree, the group still register low rate of college completion. A study conducted by Pew research Center (PRC) indicates that Asian lead in completion rate with 63% followed by white at 41%, Blacks 22% and Latino 15% (Krogstad, 2016). This trend is not appropriate and therefore, first generation Latinos require moral and financial support from their families in order to succeed with their college education.

Figure 2: a four year college completion by race.

Studies have shown that families can be useful in students’ completion of college if the family understand the college environment and can relate well with college administration and faculty. This type of support can be helpful for first time students in college since it help in building relationship between a student and faculty hence make a student settle immediate for studies. Research has indicated that this support usually available for students from families where other families members have attended college and, therefore, it increase the completion rate among Latinos. According to Berbery and Karen (2017), families usually serve as a source of strength and comfort for several first generation college students and therefore, it is important for families to work together with students to increase the number of students who complete college (Berbery & Karen, 2017). Research has also established that some students struggle with life to balance between college and family issues which make it difficult for a college student to concentrate (Berbery & Karen, 2017). This increases the number of college dropout among Latinos and therefore, family support is essential to take away certain responsibilities which usually given to students so that they can concentrate in college. The family can be a double edge sword for many Latinos’ students who struggle to balance the family and college. Family support can make sure that a student maintenance constant relationship with the family at the same time he or she is concentrating in college.

However, Latinos usually stay together and are homogenous; therefore, they cannot stay away from home for a longer duration. This affects the enrollment of Latinos in four year college degree programs. Research has also indicated that male Latinos are the protector of families and this make it difficult for them to stay in a boarding college away from home. With family support the number of male Latino graduating from a four year college is likely to increase. As stated by Berbery and Karen (2017) several Latinos usually enroll for a community college which make them stays from home instead of boarding away from homes. This culture can reduce the number of four year college graduates among Latinos if not addressed properly. It is necessary for families to provide support whereby high school graduates are assisted by parents or guardians to enroll for college programs and also given moral support. It is vivid that there are several challenges both cultural and financial which Latino must addressed to improve the number of students enrollment for a four year degree programs in colleges.

In order to improve the rate of enrollment, cultural practices and financial issues which act as barrier to college enrollment and completion of college must be addressed. First, family must work together to take a first generation students through college enrollment and offer moral support as well. Parents or guardians might understand the importance of a four year college but this must also be transferred to students so they can understand and aspire for a better life after completing college education. Research conducted by Pew Hispanic Center discovered that the rate of college dropout among Latinos is high due to financial constrains (Marchesi, 2017). Therefore, this can be addressed through family support whereby a knowledgeable family member takes a first generation student through the process of college loan application. According to Marchesi (2017), if Latino students can have access to college loan many of them would enroll for a four year college and the rate of college dropout would be low as well. It is because the hustle to get college loan is difficult and it usually tie students with their culture since they have to work and study at the same time and this interferes with their studies resulting to a higher number of college dropout among Latinos.

The fact that many Latinos parents do not understand the United States education system affects the number of college enrollment. It is therefore, necessary for Latino parents do be keen on students’ studies and do a lot of follow up to make sure that first generation students adapt to the U.S. education standard. Research has also indicated that many undocumented Latino do not have access to college loan and therefore, undocumented students work extra hard to enroll for a four year college degree and without family support many of them cannot afford to complete education (Gacel-Ávila, Jane, & Isabel, 2005). Studies have also indicated that for a Latino whether undocumented or documented to complete college one has to balance between family and education. Family can help students to mitigate the balancing issues and this will encourage many students to work hard in college which will reduce the number of college dropout (Gacel-Ávila, Jane, & Isabel, 2005). It is therefore, important for parents or guardians to take students through college systems and also develop good relationship with college administration and faculty so that it can improve the completion rate of Latino students.

Research has also established that the bond in Latinos families is very strong and this makes it impossible for Latino students to stay in college. It is an advantage to most students since they get support from their parents from home. Culturally, Latino have a strong link and usually stay together or in one neighborhood. According to Gacel –Avila, Jane and Isabel (2005), this help Latinos to raise funds amongst themselves for their students to succeed in college and because of the bond and living in one neighborhood, it makes it possible to provide financial and moral support to Latino students and this result to high number of college completion among Latinos. Though a study has established that this culture lowers the number o four year college graduates among Latino, Gacel-Avila, Jane and Isabel (2005) argue that it makes sure that parents and other families participate effectively in education of a family members and therefore, it improves the number of college graduates. Even though it is most likely to be effective for colleges within the neighbor, it is an essential culture or practice which ensures that Latinos students are involve in education and complete college as required.

It is therefore, recommended for Latino parents or families to support students through taking them to college and enrolling first time students so that it can give them moral support to work hard at school. Parents should also encourage Latino students to apply for college loan and this can be achieved through taking students through the process of loan application and registration. Since a study has indicated that many Latino students are not aware that they can access college loan, family can take an initiative and provide necessary support to make sure that Latino students meet financial requirement for a four years college student.


Berbery, M. L., & Karen, O. (2017). Going to College? Latina/Latino High School Students’

College-Going Self-Efficacy and Educational Goals. Journal of Career Assessment , 12 (5), 2-35.

Gacel-Ávila, J., Jane, K., & Isabel, C. J. (2005). Higher Education in Latin America: The

International Dimension. Washington DC 204: Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data.

Krogstad, J. M. (2016). 5 facts about Latinos and education.

tank/2016/07/28/5-facts-about-latinos-and-education/ , 2-15.

Lopez, M. H. (2012). Latinos and Education: Explaining the Attainment Gap. Pew Research

Center Hispanic Trends , 2-18.

Marchesi, P. A. (2017). Improving College-Going Trends for First Generation Latino Students:

The Importance of Habitus, School Culture and Culturally Responsive Counseling. , 6 (2), 2-45.



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