Why is their a higher rate of college drop outs in Latinos
Why Is Their A Higher Rate of College Drop Outs in Latinos Students
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Why is there a higher rate of College dropouts in Latinos?
In a National Education Association article, the issue of Latino students dropping out was termed as a ‘silent crisis’. The numbers, too, support the statement. When it comes to investigating the factors for why Latino students drop out of college, there are numerous researchers that will provide one with the figures and the definitive statements. The reasons are varied: some drop out due to financial stress; some are isolated, and others do not receive enough support either from family or from the school itself CITATION Ful11 l 16393 (Fuller, 2011).
The real questions are these: why do Latino students drop out of college? Are these factors exterior or interior? What is the larger impact on the country due to the rise in this number, and what is the impact on the community itself? Aside from the large number of deprived students that studies focus on, the answer to most of these lies in an intricate research, which is what this paper has tried to do.
This paper aims to focus on the factors that lead to students dropping out of college, and focuses on how one can reduce the frequency of their occurrence in the lives of Latino students. Moreover, it aims to prove that more than the house, a friendly environment in the educational institute, and good preparation for college is what will cause the biggest difference in the numbers of dropouts.
Why do Latino students drop out of college?
The reasons for students dropping out of college can be condensed into two types, as detailed by Jordan, and Watt and Roessingh. Together, these factors are called the push, pull and falling out factors.
According to Jordan, push factors include conditions within the school environment that force a child to leave his or her studies, such as disciplinary action, racism, hostility and so on. Pull factors, on the other hand, include scenarios that pull a student out, such as financial crisis, need for employment, family pressure, and so on CITATION Jor94 l 16393 (Jordan, Lara, & McPartland, 1994). The third factor, as detailed by Watt and Roessingh, is the falling out factor, which entails situations such poor academic performance and an inability to keep up with the population, which leads to the student gradually falling out CITATION DWa94 l 16393 (Watt & Roessingh, 1994).
In her article titled, College dropout rates reflect big challenges for blacks, Latinos, Lisa Krieger details the story of two students, Joel Bridgeman and Anwar Estelle, who got into the San Jose State University, but were demoralized after coming face to face with the tough realities of college. Not only did they had to take remedial courses, but their financial aid fell through. They were also the victims of discrimination to some extent. They persisted, however, and graduated four years later. Using their examples, Lisa enlists, very pointedly and succinctly, why Latino students drop out of college. The graduation rate around the country is 53%. Of the total of what the government calls ‘underrepresented minorities,’ that is blacks, Latinos, and American Indians, only 45% manage to graduate. In 2002, this number was 42% CITATION Kri08 l 16393 (Krieger, 2008).
Lisa goes on to enumerate the various reasons for why the number does not seem to increase, the primary of which is the social gap between low income and high-income families. Since most Latino families are low-income households, they cannot manage to send their children to expensive schools. Thus, these students are concentrated in a low-income high school, where the quality of education is vastly different from a school that has much more resources and larger student population. A report from PBS stated that most of these schools where children drop out from having less than qualified teachers, and an incomplete or incompetent curriculum. They do not have the facilities that other students do CITATION New05 l 16393 (Newshour, 2005). Thus, even if the children are good enough to get into college, they often have to take remedial courses and start behind their classmates because they lack knowledge that their peers gained in school. Not being able to graduate from an accomplished high school puts them at an immediate disadvantage, which in turn increases feelings of pressure and discouragement.
Another reason for dropping out is the financial stress. A Pew Research Centre study says that Hispanic students are less likely to be enrolled in college full time than their white counterparts. In 2011, the number of Hispanic students enrolled so in college was 78%, as opposed to the number of white students, which was 85%. The study traces the reason for the background to the Great Depression, which created a distinction between the country’s economic classes. Not only did it manage to stereotype and permanently ensconce some sects into a particular working class, but it also segregated the minorities and majorities geographically. This led to the trend of a low-income family staying a low-income family CITATION Fry13 l 16393 (Fry & Taylor, 2013).
The Latino students enrolled in college, thus, come from these backgrounds. Students have often reported that there is not enough financial aid for them in college. When the deadline comes around, most are afraid to apply for scholarships and aid. Additionally, many of them work part time—a decision necessary to put many of them through college—and are thus disqualified from being eligible for financial aid. Additionally, most students are also part-time breadwinners for their families, especially in units that are quite large or lack a parental figure. The unsuccessful juggling of the college curriculum and work often leads to students weighing their options, with the most immediate one (money) winning out.
Financial stress in students also arises from the rising cost of education. Students prefer public schools over private ones. This too, however, comes with the concern of getting and maintaining the grades for a scholarship. For those who are not able to do so, college is an expense that they cannot afford in their monthly household income. Additionally, the sudden need for money, due to unprecedented circumstances like death of a family member, medical needs and so on, may also drive many students to drop out in order to save money.
A hostile education environment may also compel students to drop out of college. This is true not only for students of the Latino community, but also of other minorities. Students often face discrimination and mental harassment due to their race, skin color, or other attributes. Reports often come in of students feeling isolated on campus, and even excluded from study groups. In some cases, their advisors to are less than cooperative. Students have also said that their advisors try to wash their hands off of them by forcing obvious majors like Spanish and African-American studies on them. The uncooperative work environment, thus, does not leave room to grow and breathe, and letting the students explore their talents. Furthermore, the fact that most of them work part-time in order to pay for college leaves them with little to no social life in college, as well a tired mind and overworked body, which may also take a toll on their studies.
The presence of a prior education background in also a factor that is equated into the final result. Most Latino families do not go exceed high school in terms of education. More pressing concerns like work and maintaining the family takes precedence over college. Lofstrum looks at the idea from an immigrant point of view. He says that first generation Hispanic students are more likely to enroll themselves into high school to get the basic education. However, if the family did not give precedence to education in their own country, the children do not too even after they come to the United States. In fact, the average Hispanic in America has less than nine years of schooling CITATION Lof07 l 16393 (Lofstrum, 2007).
This prior lack of education also leads to limited support for the students who are enrolled into college. Since their parents are often less educated than they are, their chances of asking for academic help are limited. Distance from family, coupled with isolation on campus and a hectic schedule also leads to college students being motivated to leave their studies.
The absence of parental support may also demotivate students from continuing their studies. Most often, students who comes from families discouraging their children to study find it more difficult to continue with their education. Since most Latino families are large, and have only one principal breadwinner, parents often prefer their children to work, which compels many to drop out CITATION Dol13 l 16393 (Doll, Eslami, & Walters, 2013).
As is evident from the literature, most students find it hard to continue school due to factors that they have no control over: the education system. They do not have proper education at the basic level, which ultimately leads to them falling behind in college. Additionally, hostile and uncooperative environments in college also force them to drop out. Thus, the basic hypothesis of this paper seeks to prove the fact that with the improvement of the education system, and by paying more attention to the needs of the minorities, the gap between the number of Latino students who graduate, and those who drop out, can be lessened significantly.
By focusing on the core questions of the reasons that force students to drop out, and the ways to eliminate or reduce the occurrence of the same, one can come up with a feasible plan so as to ensure that Latino students in America are not shut out from the employment and the corporate world just because they could afford or were forced to give up their higher education.
The research methodology will combine qualitative and quantitative research. Based on the studies mentioned above, and the statistics already available, comprehensive questionnaires and interview skeletons will be drafted so as to point out exactly what the factors are that affect students.
A survey will be prepared for students currently in college, who have graduated school, and who have dropped out. A sample size of at least 50 in each category will be preferable in order to get conclusions that can be applied to a larger, general population. The survey will address issues such as facilities provided in schools, details of their general curriculum, and the frequency with which student attend school. For those about to graduate, the survey will determine what they are most worried about. These may include getting into college, getting financial aid, taking remedial classes, and so on. For those who have dropped out, the survey will determine what the factors were that led them to do so.
The timeline for the research is taken as one week, after which data will be analyzed and compiled into a report, and consolidated for a comprehensive view.
Out of all the students asked to fill in questionnaires, most returned the sheets presented to them. 120 sheets came back with comprehensive answers: 30 belonged to drop outs, 70 for students about to graduate high school, and 20 to students who are currently enrolled into college. Their answers were based on their own experiences, or on the ones they knew, which included their friends, relatives, family, and so on.
40 out of 70 students who were about to graduate high school said that they were most worried about getting financial aid, or paying for college. 25 depended entirely on personal funds, whereas 15 were hoping to get a scholarship. Out of the other 30, 23 were worried about the academic workload, 4 about isolation, and 3 about social life. When asked about the facilities at their schools, 56 out of 70 rated them to be average, 7 rated them as good, and 7 as not up to scratch. When asked whether they felt inferior in knowledge when compared to students from other schools, 63 said yes, and 7 said no.
Out of the 20 students currently in college, 13 had some sort of part-time job due to being unable to qualify for financial aid. Almost all came from low-income families. 7 depended on state-provided funds. None had taken out huge loans, and said they preferred not to incur interests. 12 were struggling with schoolwork, and 8 had at least some sort of social life and friends. 14 students admitted that they had to take some form of remedial classes, or extra training in order to get at par with their peers. All of them were worried primarily about funds, and the availability of a job after school.
Of the 30 drop outs interviewed, 18 said that they dropped out for financial reasons. Of these, 6 had been unable to juggle their jobs and study, 5 had lost their financial aid, and 7 had tried paying for education but had failed. Of the rest, 6 dropped out due to isolation, discrimination, and an uncooperative school environment. 6 dropped out due to family needs and issues. When asked whether they feel dropping out of college was a good idea, 20 said yes. 8, however, admitted to wondering about a different future had they completed college. 2 admitted to having made a mistake.
Similarly, when asked whether they would consider going back to college, 18 said yes, and 12 said no. When asked for reasons for the latter, they simply said that they were too old, did not have enough money, or had other commitments.
Problems experienced during the research
The first hurdle was to acquire enough subjects to make up a substantial sample size. Questionnaires were sent out in person, and through email, but most students ignored them. Additionally, students were reluctant to speak on a number of matters: these included financial struggles, family struggles, part-time jobs, and so on. For college drop-outs, the reasons for why they quit school were the hardest to get out. Many were also reluctant in sharing where they worked presently, and whether they thought leaving school was a good or bad decision.
Another problem faced during the study pertained to the students’ perceptions and understandings of the questions. Most were partially or fully unaware of the college application process, and the questions on the sheet seemed daunting to them. Although an effort was made to make most questions close-ended, the open ended questions were often unclear in their answers, so much so that they could not be used to contribute to the final results due to their ambiguity.
Apart from that, another problem was faced in terms of the high school evaluations. The students who refused to fill in the survey or did not answer at all felt afraid of rating their institute on a public platform. Similarly, those who did fill in the survey were under the impression of being suspended, expelled, or disciplined for giving their school a less than favorable rating. Many emailed in asking whether the research was being conducted by the school itself. Thus, convincing the students to answer correctly and truthfully on the paper was a tough nut to crack.
Data analysis and discussion
One of the factors that was surprisingly from the results of the study was that the students realized the importance of education, but lost interest when they felt that they were entitled to better services. Not being able to perform as well as students from other schools on public platforms created a sense of inferiority in them, which further puts a fear of college in them.
On the whole, the study proved successful in proving that faults in the education system are the primary reason why Latino students are dropping out of schools. The sub-reasons may be vast, but they are all contributing towards the fact that a less than competent schooling system is discouraging students from participating in activities and in college.
These reasons include the scarcity of funds; not receiving enough basic education; feeling racially, mentally, or physically inferior from other students; and fear of not being able to juggle jobs and studies. Students were also responsible for their families. In fact, most stated that they came from large families, and preferred to sacrifice higher education to get their younger siblings basic one.
However, the popularity of dropping out of college is decreasing not only among students, but also among family units. Given the current scenario, parents are looking towards better family planning, and thus try to give their children a better education. Most of the students who participated in the survey said that they had a cooperative environment at home: their parents encouraged them to study, and some even arranged for all the help they could to better their child’s grades. The reason for this seems to be the desire to cross the financial gap and move over to the next side. Most children want to attend college because of the career prospects it will provide. A great many students seem inspired by pop culture and political icons to motivate them to study. In the absence of a role model, most have taken it upon themselves to take care of their families, and thus want a college education to be able to earn better in the future so as to pull their families out of their current financial state.
The study also lends weight to the recommendation that the education system should be much more cooperative and competent, especially when it comes to educating minorities like Latinos. Tutors and teachers must motivate their students so that they do not drop out of school. They should aim at bettering education at a ground level, so that the students should feel interested at the prospect of going to college. For this, innovative techniques should be used to make classes more interesting and informative. Additionally, class sizes should be regulated according to the resources available for each school.
Good counseling and career advisors should be available at all schools, especially the ones with a major Hispanic population. These centers and departments should work round the clock to ensure the mental and physical well-being of every student, so that students too feel motivated to seek guidance in times of distress. The counseling centers can work as beacons of guidance especially during times of peer pressure and fellow student influence: most students choose to drop out because their friends are. Additionally, career advisors can encourage children to look for their talent and hone their skills so as to find good careers for their future. Advisors can also lend a helping hand during the college application process, which daunts most students. They can inform the students of the proper requisites, and even guide them during the financial aid application process. Additionally, they can also come in handy during special circumstances, such as those when the child encounters a great problem in the household, or needs additional materials of study that the school cannot provide. In such cases, advisors may be able to direct the child into the right direction.
The general opinion seems to be that Latino/Hispanic students do not want to study, or do not want to prosper. However, the study conducted in the course of this paper proved that it is definitely not the case. In the current scenario, where there are a plethora of field to work in, plenty of opportunities to explore, but a scarcity of jobs, students are motivated to work harder, better, and longer in order to get the best of the best.
However, just their efforts, despite their backgrounds are not enough. Apart from the praise they deserve for wanting to break the shackles of their long driven low-income family household tradition, they also deserve the full support of the state and the people.
In her article on Anwar and Joel, Lisa Krieger describes an incident that took place between Bridgeman and his mentor. Both he and Estelle had come very close to dropping out, and were considering it seriously. Furthermore, it was a distressing option for them, for they had been the first ones from their community to go to college to pursue a higher education. If not for college, their only prospects were the local Burger King, where they would sweep the lot, and work as waiters to live for tips. However, when Bridgeman shared his intentions with his mentor, he was posed with a serious question: if he and Estelle quit, what example would they set for other children in their community? CITATION Kri08 l 16393 (Krieger, 2008)Thus, be it for themselves, or for the common good, the students of the Latino community desire to prosper as much as any student in the country. All they need is a helping hand from the system that is charged with making them into better, self-sufficient individuals.
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