The initiative is called Ensuring America's Future, and I applaud the work of Exelencia in Education and its co-founder and president, Sarita Brown. As a Latina, the issues involving the Hispanic culture and higher education are ones that I am passionate about.
As I read the article, I couldn't help but wonder how colleges and universities are tackling their Latino retention rates. When I worked in undergrad enrollment, the university I worked for wanted to increase their Latino enrollment. As I began researching and developing strategies for recruiting Latino students, I quickly realized that the university did not have the resources available to retain them. However, the university did begin making small steps towards achieving even the smallest of initiatives, such as hiring more Spanish-speaking staff.
"Rising to the Challenge: Hispanic College Graduation Rates as a National Priority" provides a lot of data and tables regarding this topic. During the study, the authors interviewed eight administrators: four schools with higher than average Hispanic graduation rates, and four with lower rates.
The study was an interesting read - and I was shocked at what some of the administrators said about their successes and/or failures in the graduation rates of Hispanics on their campuses. One mentioned that their white students arrived to their campus better prepared academically than the minority students somehow blaming the minority students for their inability to graduate.
Here are some real solutions:
- build a sense of community among Latino students, faculty and staff
- include the family - invite them to campus.
- ask your Latino graduates what helped them succeed and how they can "pay it forward" to the current students
- Latino family visit dates
Almost half of school children in the state of Texas are Latino. Colleges and universities need to be a part of the conversation, and begin to understand what needs to be done to help Latino students enroll in college, and to persist through to graduation. What will it take? What has your institution done recently that has improved retention on your campus?