Monthly Archives: August 2011

Leveling the College Admissions Process Through Technology

Kevin Carey at the Washington Monthly provides a very insightful article about the college admissions process and ConnectEDU, an online service that assists prospective college students find colleges that are likely accept them.  The service hopes to level the playing field in the college admissions process which has historically been challenging to Latinos and other minorities for a number of reasons including its complexity and access to information.  Carey explains:

But there’s another culprit at work: the college admissions process itself. If you want to buy shares of stock, bid on antiques, search for a job, or look for Mr. Right in 2011, you will likely go to a marketplace driven by the electronic exchange of information. There will be quick, flexible transactions, broad access to buyers and sellers, and powerful algorithms that efficiently match supply and demand. If you are a student looking for a college or a college looking for a student, by contrast, you’re stuck with an archaic, over-complicated, under-managed system that still relies on things like bus trips to airport convention centers and the physical transmission of pieces of paper. That’s why under-matching is so pervasive. The higher education market only works for students who have the resources to overcome its terrible inefficiency. Everyone else is out of luck.

This is an interesting piece which describes a great service that can hopefully open some additional doors for Latino college students.
Photo: Washington Monthly

Getting to the Finish Line

I wanted to add some thoughts to my last post regarding the recent PEW Hispanic Research report.   As noted, some of the positive trends outlined in the report include:

  • Latino college enrollment surged 24% from 2009 to 2010 increasing to 12.2 million Latinos enrolled in college as of October 2010.
  • The percentage of Latinos completing high school increased three percent from 70% in 2009 to 73% in 2010. Of those graduates, 44% are attending college, an increase of five percent from 2009.
  • Latino 18-24 year-olds exceeded the number of African-American students enrolled in college.
  • Enrollment increases are not just associated to Latino population growth but overall educational accomplishments.

While these trends suggest that a college education is more accessible to Latino students, two worrying trends remain. First, the study reaffirms that the Latino higher educational path passes through 2-year colleges. Only 54% of Latinos attend 4-year institutions, as opposed to 73% of white college students. Second, only 13% of young Latino adults have earned at least a bachelor’s degree – the least of any major racial/ethnic group.

The PEW data suggests there are obvious leaks along the Latino educational “pipeline.” As a side note, I’ve noted before that “pipeline” is a misnomer for characterizing the Latino higher education experience which resembles a circuit rather than a linear path. And herein, I believe, rests part of the college completion problem: a lack of understanding. Continue reading

Latino College Enrollments Up. But Work Remains

I reviewed the recent PEW Hispanic Center report regarding increasing Latino college enrollments with cautious optimism.  While Latinos are making significant strides of getting into college, many challenges remain in getting Latinos out of college – to graduation.

I’m delighted with the enrollment numbers; yet, I’m more concerned that Latinos are not navigating their way through the college pipeline. There are obvious “leaks” along the way.

The reasons are many: financial aid, institutional support, academic preparedness, and obviously many others. The report helps identify that an opportunity exists to buttress the leakage of Latino college talent.

As a community, we’ve done a commendable job of getting our Latino youth to value education and attending college; let’s now concentrate on making the education message clearer, supporting their efforts, getting them to graduate – and into the workforce.

I’ve added  some thoughts and highlights after the jump:

Continue reading

Pass the Dream Act

NPR features another inspirational yet frustrating story – this one of Ileana Salinas. She’s one of the thousands of Latino students working their way through college under the threat of being deported. Her story is extraordinary but not uncommon. Listen to her story here.

Update: Alex Montecarlo (via Latinos in College) provides another story of preserverance, commitment, and leadership.

Truly inspirational.


The Girl Scouts have named Anna Maria Chavez, chief executive officer of Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas, as chief executive of the national organization. She’s the first Latina (or any person of color) to lead the organization which has been making successful inroads in attracting the growing Latino population:

A targeted effort to take Girl Scouts to the growing Hispanic population resulted in a nearly 55% membership increase between 2000 and 2010…

Maybe we’ll see some new galletas de mantequilla!

Non-Traditional is the New Normal

I liked this piece via UTNE for a number of reasons including my experience working within the college for-profit industry, it’s focus on non-traditional (really mainstream) students, and it’s appreciation for Latinos as first-generation college students. Some provocative and insightful perspectives given the nature of higher education’s culture and timidity for change.  Worth your time to read. – money quote:

For-profit colleges are the only U.S. institutions that are seriously committed to expanding their numbers, community colleges already enroll half of all undergraduates, and both disproportionately enroll the demographic groups that dominate the next generation of Americans: Hispanics, all other minority groups, first-generation college students. Some of the boldest thinking is happening in these “nontraditional” institutions. Concerns about quality and affordability in the new mainstream of higher education have to be addressed head-on.

The Underlying Issue

Hispanic Outlook Magazine recently featured an initiative by the National Latino Education Research Agenda Project (NLERAP) which attempts to increase the cultural competency of teachers.

The issue of culturally competent or “culturally intelligent” teachers is not isolated to K-12 schools; it permeates to colleges and universities. According to Excelencia in Education, Latinos represent approximately 4% of faculty (instruction and research) and 3% of instruction and research assistants. Throughout my college years, I had a handful of Latino instructors at best – this while I attended a college which is currently in the top five for graduating Latinos! While Latino and minority faculty representation has certainly improved, it has not kept pace with the great diversification among students on campus. Why is this important? Students’ perspectives and beliefs are a byproduct of their cultural experiences.

I’ll give you a personal account. My dissertation work focused on the leadership characteristics of Latinos. It’s an area of study that is of vital importance to businesses given the increasing numbers of Latinos entering the workforce. However, only a small number of scholars have examined the topic, mostly Latinos, and zero faculty in my doctoral program. This is not meant to disparage my program; it’s an unfortunate reality on most campuses and in the leadership literature. How my final study might have differed – I’m not sure. But it would have been different having someone who genuinely understood, for example, the meaning of familialismo, and how it impacts Latino leaders.

The initiative of developing culturally sensitive teachers is a good one. But just as important, if not more, is the vital necessity to reassess the issue of effective recruitment and development of Latinos and other minorities in academia.

Photo: Ryan Wick