Support and Preparation Make the Difference
By Matthew Muñoz
Latino students face a 56% high school dropout rate and those who do continue on to college face an even lower retention rate.* McGraw-Hill intern Matt Muñoz spoke with five undergraduate students at Kalamazoo College in Michigan to discuss what makes for success in high school and a smooth transition into college.
The road to college can be difficult for students who are minorities, come from low-income areas, or do not have parents who are college graduates. As a first-generation Latino college student, I feel that I am where I am today because I had parents who pushed me and told me that I could go to college if I set my mind to it. Moreover, I had the privilege of English-speaking parents who could better understand the difficult college application process.
The opportunity to receive a college education is out of the grasp of many across the country because of a high school system that fails to advise students of their options after graduation. Many of the students who do make it through to college drop out because of the disconnect they feel on campus, distance from family, and financial problems.
I sat down with five fellow Latino students to reflect on our academic careers from high school freshmen to our current standing as undergraduate college students. More specifically, what enabled us to get where we are today. While we did not always see eye-to-eye, there were several commonalities that we agreed on strongly.
Things we felt made a difference were:
- Parental Support in Primary Education
- Adequate Resources for Students/Parents in High School
- Open-minded College Campus Environment
- Group Support on College Campus
We all agreed that parental support or some sort of personal support outside the classroom was important in encouraging us to go to college. Roxanna Menchaca,18, a first-year college student, said she credited her college acceptance with her parents driving her to Los Angeles City College after school to take community college courses. “I feel privileged,” said Menchaca, who acknowledged that many of her peers did not have the same support.
A solution to help bridge the gap is counseling support from schools that make a conscious outreach to the parents of Latino students. Many of the parents of students in the group did not speak English and were, as a result, disconnected from their education. “I had to grow up fast,” said sophomore Geneci Marroquin, 19, who said she had to translate for her mom at school events and throughout her college application process.
A more dynamic sense of community with resources for Spanish-speaking parents can help bridge this gap and ease the transition into college. We agreed that talking about college earlier was better and both school districts and students could take the initiative. “The more students are involved, the more parents will be involved,” said Menchaca.
The drop-out trends are reversible and educators can work with Latino students to help make a college education attainable for all.
*“Building Brides to the Future for Latino Students.” White Paper. Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents. September 26, 2011. (http://www.alasedu.net/whitepapers.aspx)
About the Author:
Matthew Muñoz is a sophomore at Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, MI. He was born and raised in the Greater Los Angeles Area and is a recipient of the Posse Foundation scholarship. He is an English major with a Media Studies concentration and his expected graduation is in 2014.