While in college I had the opportunity to volunteer with a program called the Hispanic Youth Career Conference. The HYCC board was founded in an effort to recruit an underrepresented population of students to the college, Latinos. Despite our nearness to passing the Dream Act, which would allow undocumented resident youth to attend college and become citizens, our own Latino children continue to shy away from higher education. Why? In surveys and discussions, teens told us about their fears of pursing an education that they felt either they didn’t deserve or couldn’t achieve. Many students cited their family’s lower incomes, average grades in school and lack of role models as reasons why they couldn’t envision themselves attending college.
What can parents do to prepare their children for higher education?
- Contact colleges to gain a better understanding of the steps needed to secure financial aid and enroll in classes. Securing aid is not difficult once you know the process.
- Ask about a mentoring program that could help your child to meet others like them and realize that they have the same chance at success as their peers.
- Pick a college course that your child is interested in and have yourself or a family member sit in with your child to help them realize that materials do not exceed their abilities.
- Connect your child with a counselor in high school and college that will guide them with tools for success.
- Help your child to find “job shadow” opportunities that can allow them to spend a few hours with individuals who work in a field that interests them. Removing certain careers from their pedestals can help our children to see them as reachable.
- Connect with local and national Hispanic organizations for support and resources that help Latinos to succeed in higher education.
© 2011, Chantilly Patiño. All rights reserved.