Friday, May 24, 2024

Young Latino Students Break Barriers for Higher Education

Written By: Cristian Pineda

As the middle of summer approaches, recent high school graduates are looking into purchasing materials to prepare them for their first year of college. As statistics have shown, Latino graduates are up to par with their peers in preparation for attending colleges and universities as the number of enrolled students have increased within the past few years.

It’s great to see these numbers shift. Growing up, I was always used to seeing the statistics of Latino students underperforming and not reaching the same graduations rates as other ethnic groups. Yet, studies show that in 2012, 69% of Latino high school graduates were enrolled full-time at an institution of higher learning compared with 67% of white high school graduates.

This change may be due to increased English language programs to Latino communities, or providing more scholarships to students, or even encouraging more students in early childhood programs. Whatever the case is, it’s important to recognize and congratulate these students for their dedication to education and for their courage to ignore older statistics that would discourage continuation.

Graduating high school is one thing, but once a student crosses that goal, they have to change their plans to include graduating college too.  Pursuing a college degree not only is more time-consuming than a high school diploma, but also costs thousands of dollars more. And with increased student loan rates affecting 67% of Latino students who rely on financial aid to pay for college, many find the obstacles overbearing and cannot continue their enrollment in higher education.

This to me is devastating. Latino students work so hard to try to compete for the same seat in a college or university, but outside barriers restrict their chances to complete their college degree.

However, this problem isn’t going unnoticed. Many institutions are paying attention and are working to fix these hurdles. In the past year alone, there was an increase of 14.5% of Hispanic-Serving Institutions and there have been more efforts to grow the number of work-study programs, include more guaranteed-need based programs, add earlier duel enrollment programs and use more installment plans and emergency loans.

It’s clear that these institutions want to increase their Latino population, but sometimes it isn’t even up to them. What can we as Latinos do to support each other to stay in school and be involved?

It all starts at a younger age. More and more Latino students are enrolling into colleges than ever before, but the need for encouragement is still necessary. Some Latino high school students encounter heavier scenarios than their peers, including neglect from family, language barriers between parents, and the lack of role models that share their story. DREAM students face even more obstacles, dealing with deportation fears and financial hardships. Still, Latino students are letting their voices be heard. Their stories are being shared to the masses. The facts show that preparation and motivation at a younger age is the push that Latino students need to not only pursue higher education, but continue beyond their college degree.

Cristian Pineda is a blog contributor for La Plaza and an assistant for Latinovations. Cristian graduated from George Mason University with a degree in Communication and minors in Film & Media Studies and in Business. He consults for several Latino-based organizations within the Washington, DC Metropolitan region providing support and assistance in their social media and digital marketing strategies.


  1. D.T.H.A. says

    Well written article with important points addressed. The desire for higher education is so abundant across a vast group of people who share a hunger for knowledge and willingness to pursue that knowledge. Like you said, it’s devastating that students with all the right academic qualifications to get through school are being held back by financial forces outside of their control. It’s a problem that affects way too many people, but it’s encouraging to see statistics reflecting an increase in programs to help balance the effects of it. I look forward to seeing the education system catch up with those who wish to be educated and truly provide a fair shot for everyone.