Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Predictive Factors in Postsecondary Educational Attainment among Latinos

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Predictive Factors in Postsecondary Educational Attainment among Latinos

Article excerpt

The study in this article investigated factors that distinguish the increasing number of Latino students who continue their education beyond high school from the small and stable number who complete a baccalaureate degree. The sample included a cohort of 866 Latino men and women who participated in the National Educational Longitudinal Study (1988-2000) and had varying amounts of postsecondary education by the year 2000. The study employed educational, psychological, and familial predictor variables from 1990 when participants were sophomores in high school. Data were analyzed using a multinomial logistic regression and results indicated that several factors were significant in distinguishing those with some postsecondary education, no degree, from bachelor's completers. Parent support and locus of control were the two most significant predictors. Implications for school counselors are discussed.


In July 2002, the U.S. Census Bureau announced that Latinos had become the nation's largest non-dominant group with a population of 38.8 million, surpassing the African American population now numbered at 38.3 million (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2002b). With a high birthrate, their numbers are expected to continue to grow rapidly. Latinos are overrepresented among the poor with about a third of families living below the poverty line. They are a relatively young group with 35% under the age of 18 compared to less than 25% of non-Latino Whites. Because of their low-income status and the high school-aged population, the education of Latinos has become a major concern in this country (Llagas & Snyder, 2003). This concern was manifested most notably in the creation on October 12, 2001, of the President's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Latino Americans.


Educational attainment data for Latinos beyond high school reveal two very different scenarios. Large numbers of Latinos are enrolled in postsecondary education; yet the majority are either older than the 18-to-24-year-old cohort, enrolled in community colleges, or attending part-time (Fry, 2002). There is a substantial enrollment gap between Latinos and all other groups among 18-to-24-year olds--the traditional age group for college attendance and the cohort that reaps the greatest economic benefit from a college degree. Only 35% of Latino high school graduates in that age group are enrolled in college compared to 46% of Whites. Latinos are far more likely to be enrolled in 2-year colleges than any other group. About 40% of Latino 18-to-24-year-old college students attend 2-year institutions compared to about 25% of White and Black students in that age group. Latinos are more likely to be part-time students. Nearly 85% of White 18-to-24-year-old college students are enrolled fulltime compared to 75% of Latino students in that age group (Fry). Similar to high school graduation, college enrollment is more likely among U.S.-born Latinos, especially the second generation, yet their attainment of a baccalaureate degree still ranks far below that of Whites. Of every 100 Latino kindergarteners, 11 will obtain at least a bachelor's degree compared to 33 for every 100 White kindergarteners (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2002a).


Explanations of Latino educational achievement and attainment have focused on familial, societal, educational, and psychological factors. The level of family involvement has been shown to be a significant factor in the high school achievement of Latino students (Bamaca-Gomez & Plunkett, 2003; Quezada, Diaz, & Sanchez, 2003). Latino parents have consistently emphasized the importance of education in the lives of their children and cite education as an important reason for immigration to the United States (Behnke, Diversi, & Piercy, 2004). While a number of studies have examined parental influence and high school completion among Latinos, few studies have examined such influence on postsecondary educational attainment. …

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