June 24, 2005

Institute Initiates Campaign to Increase Latino College Enrollment

Three years after its landmark study, College Knowledge: What Latino Parents Need to know and Why They Don’t Know It, the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute (TRPI) is undertaking a yearlong project that aims to provide Latino parents with information to prepare their children for college admission and attendance.

TRPI’s 2002 College Knowledge report discovered that while a significant majority of Latino parents want their children to attend college, relatively few have access to meaningful information that helps them understand the college preparation process. The current project picks up where the first study left off. Funded by the James Irvine Foundation, the project will utilize multimedia to address all applicable audiences in the college-going cycle - teachers, outreach counselors, parents, and students.

The first component of the project, Reaching Higher Ground: Parental Outreach Programs at the Postsecondary Level, is a report that examines how postsecondary institutions throughout the nation are mobilizing to address the need for college information among Latino parents. The report provides program administrators with suggestions for implementing these characteristics, and recommends that the scale of such programs increase and become more widespread. A resource section is also provided with a list of the directors of the programs profiled as well as potential funding sources.

Speaking today at the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans conference, “Pathways to Hispanic Family Learning,” Harry P. Pachon, Ph.D., president of the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute, explained that college aspirations are high within the Latino community, but the information gap is a major obstacle that must be overcome.

“First-generation Latino parents are less likely to have access to the information they need to prepare their children for college. Because 57% of adult Latinos in the United States are first-generation immigrants, it is essential that sincere efforts be made to reach out to these parents, focusing on bridging these generational communication barriers to academic success and participation in higher education,” Pachon said.

Low levels of education not only limit career opportunities, but also hinder the likelihood of future generations to pursue a higher education. According to a 2001 U.S. Department of Education report, 82% of students whose parents held a bachelor’s degree or higher, enrolled in college immediately after finishing high school. By comparison, the rates were much lower for students whose parents had only a high school degree, 54%, and even lower, 36%, for students whose parents had less than a high school education.

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