Building A Bridge to Somewhere

I’ve been working on presentation I’ll be giving next month focusing on Hispanic college students in the United States. There are many themes to address when it comes to this broad subject: access; financial aid; cultural influences; generational impact; language; and many others. All tie into developing Hispanic talent and the Hispanic workforce. Today an article shared by Education Week touches upon one of these themes – Hispanics and four-year college attendance.

It’s no secret that Hispanics are more inclined to attend community colleges on a part-time basis. Hispanics tend to choose community colleges because they offer more access, lower tuition rates, and flexible schedules – all of which are important factors for the many Hispanic college students that work at least part-time.  

Working and attending school on a part-time basis is a recipe for disappointment and frustration. I should know. As a recent high school graduate many years ago, I attended community colleges in Los Angeles (mostly part-time) while working full-time. Working and going to school was a prelude to dropping out of THREE community colleges within a matter of two years.

Only after I left home to attend a four-year institution in Texas was I able to complete my studies. However, most of my community college credits didn’t transfer to my new school – so I started from square one. There was little explanation as to why – only that “I had taken the wrong courses.”

I was fortunate. I completed a four-year degree in just over three years. The income I earned during my working years helped finance my education but only partially. I was unaware of the financial help available for students like me. Understanding the “financial aid ropes,” allowed me to attend school full-time while working on campus via a work-study grant.

While community colleges provide a valuable path to higher education, for many Hispanics it’s often a road that begins and ends there. It’s good to see that there are many organizations working hard to increase the transfer rates of community college students to four-year institutions. With the right kind of support, Hispanic four-year college attendance rates will most definitely increase.