College Choices: Parental Involvement and Latino Students

Hello Hispanic Pundit readers! Hispanic CREO – real name, Anne – guestblogging for the first time today. I’ll be dropping in occasionally to comment on some of the educational issues currently affecting the Latino community. If you like what you read, please visit my blog, The Daily Grito. Also, leave comments – they’re great!

Today’s topic: Latino Parental Involvement in College-Related Decisions

More than a third of Latino college freshman report that their parents are involved “too little” in their college-related decisions, according to a report published yesterday by The Higher Education Research Institute (HERI). The report, which surveyed over 270,000 students across the country, revealed that 32% of Hispanic freshman desire greater parental involvement in dealing with college officials, and 43% of students want more parental help in choosing college courses and college activities.

It’s no secret that parental involvement increases academic performance in elementary and secondary schools, but scant research has been conducted to evaluate the effects of parental involvement on the academic achievement of college students. In fact, while researching this post, I could not find a single study that evaluated college students’ academic achievement in relation to parental involvement.

So, what does the HERI study mean for Latino students? Well, firstly, it offers some motivation for parents to become more involved in their children’s college choices. Even if we don’t yet have research to say so, there is little doubt that parental involvement yields positive results. Of course, this is not something that parents can necessarily “go alone.” Today, 49% of Latino college students are first generation college students – which means that their parents need information and support about how to navigate the college system and help their children be successful in higher education. This is a good prospect for non-profit organizations – perhaps the College Parents of America – as well as colleges and universities.

Secondly, the research indicates that even with increased parental support, Latino students may need more general assistance to make important decisions about their college careers. This is where colleges and universities come in. As the Latino population grows and more Hispanic students enter college, institutions of higher learning will have to adapt to serve the needs of these students – especially first generation college students. Orientation programs for minority students, personalized and intensive academic counseling and peer support groups are all good starting points and can offer many benefits to Latinos in college.

With greater parental involvement and institutional support, we can begin to increase the number of Latino students who make good choices about college – and make themselves successful graduates.

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