Models of Success With Latino Students

Report reviews strategies on recruitment, retention among other issues.
June 19, 2008

With the Latino population growing, colleges are considering their success -- or lack thereof -- in educating Latino students.

A new report released Wednesday, "Modeling Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs): Campus Practices that Work for Latino Students," explores strategies used by institutions with significant Latino enrollments. The report was released by Excelencia in Education and examined six community colleges and six public universities -- in California, New York and Texas.

The report looked at five topics identified to help Latino students succeed and what the 12 institutions were doing in those areas. Some examples:

Community outreach: East Los Angeles College works with students in middle and high schools to teach them math and prepare them for college math.

Academic support: El Camino College set up a First Year Experience Program in which students participate in learning communities (programs in which cohorts take multiple classes together), and also receive help from peer and faculty mentors.

Data use: New York City College of Technology, of the City University of New York, conducted surveys of students and found that many minority students were troubled by a lack of communication with professors and advisers about career goals. The college responded by creating new programs for undeclared majors and revamping career counseling.

Faculty development: El Camino College started a new programs to teach professors how to pronounce names they might not know, with the goal of making all students feel more comfortable in the classroom.

Transfer paths: The report pointed out that almost half of Latino students begin their higher education at a community college. The University of Texas El Paso works with the local school districts as well as the El Paso Community College to make the transitions smooth -- and offers special summer programs and scholarships for community college students.

The report also several general suggestions for working with Latino students:

  • “Provide a holistic approach to serving Latino students within the institution.”
  • “Partner with other education organizations in the community to align educational resources.”
  • “Seek external sources to develop and test innovative practices while adding proven practices to the institutional budget.”
  • “Use short-term measures of academic progress to guide improvement in curricula instruction, and support services for Latino students.”

Deborah Santiago, vice president for policy and research of Excelencia in Education and author of the report, said one of the most important lessons was that it's not enough for colleges to enroll Latinos, but that they must provide services to these students. She added that these programs can serve other populations as well.

“If it works well for Latino students, it can work well for all students,” she said.


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