Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Transitioning Hispanic Seniors from High School to College

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Transitioning Hispanic Seniors from High School to College

Article excerpt

Hispanic seniors who were on track to graduate in May 2006 were invited to participate in a program to help them make a successful transition from high school to college. Data indicated that this group might benefit from direct assistance in the college application process. The goal of the intervention was to work with the identified students during the fall semester and to increase the number of Hispanic students who applied to college. The program was evaluated by comparing the number of Hispanic students who applied to college by May 1, 2005, to those Hispanic seniors who applied to college by May 1, 2006. There was a 5% increase in the number of Hispanic seniors who applied to college by May 1, 2006, compared to May 1, 2005. Additionally, there was a 16% increase in Hispanic students who applied to a college by January 2006 compared to the previous year.


Over the past decade, there has been a substantial increase in the Hispanic population in U.S. schools. Although still considered a minority group, these students represent the second largest group in our schools nationally (Kohler & Lazarin, 2007), second only to the White, non-Hispanic students. Despite being the largest minority group, these students have one of the lowest academic success rates. According to the Education Watch State Report (Education Trust, 2009), Latino students had one of the lowest 4-year graduate rates (61%), even lower than Native American students (62%). Additionally, school and county statistics indicate that Hispanic students' test scores are lower, they fail more classes, they have more absences, and they are less likely to graduate on time when compared to White, non-Hispanic students (Kohler & Lazarin). In the 2004 school year, one of the major Southern Association of Colleges & Schools (SACS) improvement goals for the targeted school in our study was to increase the academic achievement of Hispanic students. Although strides toward this goal seem to have been made, the achievement gap still remains.


Barriers to College Going

National data show that fewer Hispanic students (24.7%) were enrolled in postsecondary institutions compared to their (41.7%) White non-Hispanic peers (Kohler & Lazarin, 2007). For many Hispanic students, the application process may be a daunting task. It is likely that that these students are the first person in their family attempting to attend a college or university either in the United States or their native country. There are many steps involved in the process, and many Hispanic families do not possess basic knowledge regarding the college application process (Tornatsky, Cutler, & Lee, 2002). Additionally, many high schools do not routinely provide application process information to these students and their families in their primary language. Hispanic students also are underrepresented in advanced courses in high school as well as in gifted and talented programs (Kohler & Lazarin). Many Hispanic seniors possess the necessary skills and academic scores to pursue higher education; however, many of these students are not pursuing postsecondary education as an option. It is likely that these students are not pursuing higher education options because they lack the knowledge about the process and their parents may not have the information about applying to college and how to select a college (Fry, 2003; Stern, 2004; Tornatsky et al.).

School professionals should be aware of the achievement gap between Hispanic and White, non-Hispanic students. Currently, Latinos experience the poorest educational attainment of any group in the United States (Gloria & Rodriguez, 2000). Despite their low level of achievement, Hispanic students continue to have aspirations to pursue higher education. Higher education is often a goal that stems from these students' families. Data indicate that Latino parents expect their children to succeed in school and further their education past high school (Stern, 2004). …

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