UC along with 200 universities supports deportation relief policy


university_of_california-berkeley_5686897_i1In line with numerous campus efforts to promote inclusivity in wake of Donald Trump’s presidential victory, UC Berkeley and other UC campuses joined colleges across the country in signing a statement supporting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.

DACA is an immigration policy implemented by President Barack Obama through an executive order in 2012 that aims to protect eligible youth from deportation who first entered the United States before their sixteenth birthday among other guidelines. As of Tuesday, more than 200 college leaders across the country signed a statement in support of the DACA, which President-elect Trump opposes.

“UC Berkeley firmly supports DACA, its beneficiaries and all of our undocumented students. We are doing everything in our power to provide our undocumented students with the services and support they need,” said Chancellor Nicholas Dirks in an email. “Diversity is central to our mission, and we are committed to maintaining a campus culture where every member of the community feels safe, welcome, and respected.”

DACA beneficiaries are entitled to a work permit, a social security number and have the freedom to return back to the United States in certain circumstances.

The policy can have significant fiscal impacts for eligible students because it classifies them as California residents for purposes such as admission and financial aid, opening eligibility for grants, work-study and scholarships, according to campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof.

“Without DACA, a Berkeley education would be out of reach for many,” Mogulof said in an email.

Apart from chancellors at other UC schools such as Irvine, San Diego, Davis and Los Angeles, signatories include Ivy League colleges like Yale and Harvard.

Juan A. Prieto, an undocumented campus senior, said he was grateful for DACA because it eased his anxiety over possible deportation.

“I think now that DACA is being threatened it’s like some folks are sort of being reminded that we are undocumented again,” Prieto said. “It gave a lot of student’s opportunities … but I think the flaw in it was that we did not use those opportunities to uplift all of our community.”

According to Prerna Lal, an immigration attorney at the Undocumented Student Program on campus, DACA has been a vital resource for undocumented students to participate in campus life and graduate on time.

“Ending DACA would wipe away at least $433.4 billion from the U.S. GDP cumulatively over 10 years,” Lal said in an email.

In light of uncertainty regarding the new government’s immigration policies, UC President Janet Napolitano has convened a task force to strategize policies to protect undocumented students. Additionally, UC officials have been in talks with undocumented students about establishing sanctuary status for the university.

“The campus also looks forward to working with President Napolitano’s task force that will be strategizing on how, in the future, to best protect undocumented students across the UC system,” Dirks said in an email.

Contact Parth Vohra at pvohra@dailycal.org and follow him on Twitter at @ParthVohra622.

5 Tips for Scoring College Scholarships


If you’re a high school senior or a college student looking for scholarships to help fund the cost of school next year, now is the perfect time to begin your search.

Local private scholarship deadlines tend to be in the spring, but applications for some of the biggest national scholarships are due in the next few months.

In fact, November is National Scholarship Month, designated by the nonprofit National Scholarship Providers Association to help raise awareness that fall is the time to start applying.

Unlike financial aid, these scholarships are based on merit, not financial need, though family income can be a factor in some cases.

For some scholarships, you’ll have to move quickly if you want to have a chance. The Elks National Foundation Most Valuable Student Competition, for example, awards up to $50,000 to students who demonstrate leadership. But applications are due Dec. 1.

Applications for the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Scholarship Program—which gives up to $40,000 per year—must be submitted by Nov. 30th, and the James W. McLamore Whopper Scholarship, from the co-founder of Burger King, gives $50,000 awards to students, but you have to apply by Dec. 15.

How likely is it that you’ll win scholarship dough? Fairly decent, actually.

According to the 2016 Sallie Mae How America Funds College survey, about half of families who responded reported getting some scholarship or grant money. In fact, according to the survey, scholarships and grants covered 34 percent of college costs on average.

Though less than 1 percent of students get scholarships that cover the entire cost of tuition and room and board, according to financial aid expert Mark Kantrowitz, there are thousands of scholarships that go beyond academic or athletic performance.

Among them are music performance, community service, and entrepreneurial experiences, says Kathy Ruby, director of college finance for College Coach, a college admission and financing consulting service.

Smart Strategies

Here are five ways to maximize your chances of getting money that can make a meaningful dent in your college bills:

Target merit aid. Colleges are one of the largest providers of grants and scholarships, Ruby says. Eager to get a diverse student body, colleges use merit aid to recruit students based on specific characteristics, such as your GPA, your field of study, or where you grew up.

Generally, private colleges offer more merit aid than public universities because they have endowments and don’t rely on state funding. But many state schools, especially in the South and West, offer generous scholarships to out-of-staters with solid academic records.

For example, The University of Arkansas’ New Arkansan Non-Resident Tuition Award scholarship gives up to 90 percent of the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition for students from neighboring states who have a GPA of 3.2 or higher.

You can increase your chances of getting merit aid by applying to schools where your test scores and grades place you in the top 10 percent of the class.

Go to the College Board’s website, Big Future, to see how your academic record compares with students accepted at the schools you want to attend.

As you research and visit schools, ask admissions officers whether you are a good candidate for merit aid and what kind of profile students who get merit aid typically have.

“The criteria colleges look for shifts every year,” Ruby says.

Find your fit. Be strategic about applying. Scholarships with few or very broad criteria will have a lot more competition.

Spend your time searching for scholarships that really match your experience and interests. Use free online scholarship search services that can help you find those that fit: Cappexthe College BoardFastweb, and Scholarships.com.

You fill out a profile to identify what’s unique about you, and the services match you with potential scholarships.

Go big and small. National scholarships are often more lucrative than those in your community, so targeting a few large scholarships is a good way to start.

But your odds of snagging a local one may be better because you’re likely to be competing against fewer students. Talk to the guidance counselors at your school to see which organizations they work with.

Churches, civic organizations such as Rotary Clubs, and local businesses are common sources. Go the extra mile by looking up the winners or going to awards ceremonies to see who scores the awards.

Focus on your career. Some professional organizations offer scholarships to entice people to enter the field, especially in hard-to-fill professions.

Check out the Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop tool, which lists more than 5,000 scholarships for undergraduate and graduate school programs. These include: $2,500 from the American Association of Equine Practitioners for people studying veterinary medicine and $3,000 to $5,000 from the American Concrete Institute to support students whose studies relate to concrete (really).

Then there’s the $5,000 John Kitt Memorial Scholarship from the American Association of Candy Technologists, for college students with a demonstrated interest in confectionary technology.

Start early. You don’t need to wait until senior year to start thinking about scholarships. Begin researching potential scholarships when you first enter high school.

“Then you can start taking steps to meet the criteria rather wait and try to find what box you fit in,” Ruby says.

Posted with permission from consumer reports.


3 Digital Trends Shaping the Future of College Admissions


Generation Z, or the post-Millennial generation, is now the largest portion of the U.S. population, at nearly 26 percent. Considered “digital natives,” this demographic is the first generation to grow up fully digital, interacting fluently over social media and completely dependent on the Internet. Nearly three-quarters of them use cell phones more than they watch TV, according to the advertising agency Sparks & Honey.

As with generations past, a college and post-grad education is well-revered; however, the higher education industry is lacking the digital tools to appeal to their most desirable students, and worse, lacking the tools to prepare them for tech-heavy careers.

Undergraduate enrollment is projected to increase 14 percent from 17.3 million to 19.8 million students between 2014 and 2025, but higher education institutions still have major catching up to do. Cathy O’Neil, author and former Director of the Lede Program in Data Practices at Columbia University writes, “Today’s college admissions process has gradually become dominated by a viper’s nest of competing algorithms that keep tuition rising, parents worrying and kids suffering. Fail to play the game and your child may pay the price.”

The technology challenge facing higher education is substantial, but these are three key ways college institutions can use digital tools to better appeal to their tech-savvy audience.

1. Enrollment process must go digital.

Despite widespread digital trends, the school enrollment process remains largely unchanged. Prospective students can research a college website and chat with peers or active students, but a majority of them find it difficult to navigate the institution on a deeper level.

“In order to create a funnel of likely student applicants, institutions need more digital systems, (i.e. mobile apps) in place to attract potential students while also correctly gauging their interest to attend,” says Sujoy Roy, founder and CEO of VisitDays, an app that helps universities communicate with prospective students. “Research shows that when students are empowered with tools to take personalized on-campus tours, they’re 70 percent more likely to attend.”

Furthermore, digital tools that aim to solve the predictive yield problem, such as the emerging Virtual Reality campus tour trend, help predict enrollment rates, which lessens administrative headaches and budget roadblocks while increasing evaluation abilities.

2. Creative online, digital and mobile strategies.

According to a 2016 study by Marketo, newer methods of technology, such as enhanced course delivery, “flipped classrooms,” and gamification, have seen promising student outcomes. “Flipped” and gamified instructional models, in particular, have been linked to greater student engagement.

We use digital tools in the classroom to engage Generation Z, but higher education has been immensely slow to migrate their admissions outreach to similar channels. Data from TargetX, a CRM platform for higher education, reveals that 81 percent of students visit college websites on mobile devices and as many as 35 percent have submitted a college application from their hand-held devices.

Thus, colleges must have a compelling online and mobile presence. The Marketo study also found that 5 percent of seniors have received text messages from universities, while 73 percent would be willing to allow text messages. This is a huge missed opportunity to connect and engage real-time with future students. Implementing tools, like VisitDays, demonstrates to this all-digital cohort that the institution speaks their language.

3. Emphasize new marketing outreach.

In a society with abundant “noise,” today’s colleges must do much more outbound marketing than in decades past. Universities are creating roles for marketing and branding experts to analyze the market and cultivate strategies, much like traditional companies do.

A recent survey conducted by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth found that nearly all polled institutions use some form of social media as part of their marketing. Moreover, institutions are increasingly taking advantage of social media, mobile marketing, and other digital strategies not only to recruit students, but also to research prospective students.

Multichannel marketing and communications are critical: 40 percent of seniors and 45 percent of juniors noted that they are more likely to consider institutions that use print and phone communications, along with digital. An article published in Inside Higher Ed, estimates the annual recruiting spend of American colleges to move from the current $10 billion to $100 billion a year.

Lesson: Leverage digital tools to differentiate.

Many less-selective, four-year institutions are struggling with declining enrollments. The 2015 Survey of Admissions Directors found that half of admissions directors were very concerned about meeting their enrollment goals for the 2015 to 16 academic year, and 58 percent did not meet their goals. This large swath of four-year institutions need to quickly find a solution to lackluster admissions numbers.

Several questions emerge: is technology the answer? Is it revitalized branding or lowering tuition costs? Or perhaps opening bigger doors for international students? They all beg the question: is a school’s value earned or arbitrary? There is no obvious answer, but what’s clear is that if these schools don’t differentiate themselves from the pack in 2016, they’ll increase the risk of closing their doors permanently.

From Entrepreneur Magazine


Micro-Barriers Loom Large for First-Generation Students


By the time J.D. Vance got ready to apply for law school, he’d already survived an abusive and chaotic childhood, made it through Marine Corps boot camp and a deployment to Iraq, and galloped through a bachelor’s degree at Ohio State in less than two years. But as he looked over the application for Stanford law, he found himself stymied by a simple requirement — a signature from his dean. “I didn’t know the dean of my college at Ohio State,” Vance writes in his best-selling memoir, Hillbilly Elegy. “I’m sure she is a lovely person, and the form was clearly little more than a formality. But I just couldn’t ask.”

He crumpled the form and finished his other applications, the ones that didn’t require help from a total stranger. And that’s why one of the most talked-about books of the year is written by a Yale law graduate instead of a Stanford alum.

In this agitated election year, Hillbilly Elegy has been closely mined for insights about working-class America and the sense of alienation that has roiled our politics and inflamed our public debate. With his Appalachian roots and searing personal story, Vance has become an eager translator across the cultural chasm, unpacking Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” in a New York Times op-ed and talking religion with Terry Gross. Vance’s lessons on college access have gone largely unnoticed, but Hillbilly Elegy has plenty to say about the intangible barriers that make it so tough for an impoverished, first-generation kid to make the leap to higher education.

“That week of interviews showed me that successful people are playing an entirely different game.”

That simple form for Stanford law is a perfect example of where a relatively tiny difference in culture can make a huge difference in access. Vance didn’t lack knowledge of the form — he wasn’t suffering an information breakdown, as we so often assume of first-generation students. He simply wasn’t willing to ask what felt like a favor of someone he didn’t know. Self-reliance is a cardinal virtue in Vance’s world, where bonds of kinship and trust take years to develop. “The professors I selected to write my letters [of recommendation] had gained my trust,” he writes. “I listened to them nearly every day, took their tests, and wrote papers for them.” They could be asked for a favor. The dean, both a stranger and a bigwig, could not.

It’s easy to view that as a silly distinction for a student to make, especially for something as important as a law-school application. But from a student’s perspective, requiring the pro forma signature of a random college official probably seems pretty silly, too. Higher education is choked with micro-barriers like that.

Reading Hillbilly Elegy, I thought about how much time we spend imploring students to seek guidance for obstacles of our own devising. We produce bureaucratic hurdles, then ask students to assume good faith and a willingness to help on the part of professors and administrators who don’t always exhibit such openness. Wealthier, parentally enabled students feel perfect freedom to ask for accommodations in exchange for their tuition dollars. But Vance highlights the awkwardness of telling low-income students to be grateful for their scholarships and also empowered to make demands.

He’s especially sharp in describing the opaque corners of the collegiate world, where decisions are made about who gets job opportunities, who makes it into the right student groups, and who gets connected to the most helpful alumni. These are the areas where no amount of diligent rule-following will do the trick, because the rules are intentionally unwritten. “The entire process was a black box, and no one I knew had the key,” Vance writes of his experience trying to join The Yale Law Journal. “I had no idea what was going on.”

A similarly hazy authority holds sway when it comes to summer internships, which matter hugely for a student’s career prospects. Not only is there no manual to guide the uninitiated; there’s also a taboo against direct questions. “There’s no database that spits out this information, no central source,” Vance writes. “In fact, it’s considered almost unseemly to ask.”

That’s because we’re all a little squeamish about the mechanics of networking, and our discomfort comes to the fore when we have to explain the dark arts to a newcomer. I felt the weight of Vance’s incredulity when he describes his first internship search at Yale law. “That week of interviews showed me that successful people are playing an entirely different game,” he writes. “They don’t flood the job market with résumés, hoping that some employer will grace them with an interview. They network.”

Vance was lucky enough to have mentors who offered honest guidance, primers on the unwritten rules of an unseen game, but too few students get that kind of break. The Gallup-Purdue Index puts enormous stock in the value of mentor relationships, correlating them to higher personal well-being and job satisfaction among graduates. But the inaugural survey in 2014 found that barely one in five students had a mentor as part of their undergraduate experience. Outside of niche scholarship and retention programs, we’re not doing nearly enough to help students navigate the unmapped terrain of academic and professional life.

In one particularly vivid example, Vance recounts a recruiting dinner at a white tablecloth restaurant in downtown New Haven. Faced with more cutlery than any sane person needs, he retreated to the bathroom for a phone-a-friend lifeline on fork selection. Reading the details of his nerve-wracking meal — “That’s when I realized ‘sparkling’ water meant ‘carbonated’ water” — I felt proud that my university offers voluntary etiquette dinners for students. It’s easy to criticize that kind of course as outmoded or patronizing, until you read Vance’s very real mortification as he tries to bluff his way through a formal evening. If the world is going to judge you on something, we ought to be willing to teach it.

The biggest lesson of Hillbilly Elegy is just how much there is to teach. As the divides in our culture and our economy have deepened, bridging the distance between Vance’s world and the college environment has become a bigger lift. Our well-mannered discretion about this gap is born of best intentions, but it leaves working-class kids like Vance at a real disadvantage. He makes a persuasive case for more blunt acknowledgment, ending one chapter with a “non-exhaustive list of things I didn’t know when I got to Yale Law School.” It includes gems like, “that your shoes and belt should match,” and my personal favorite, “that finance was an industry people worked in.”

Vance’s story is not universal. He’s white, which affords no small amount of privilege. He benefited from a network of extended family that supported and cared for him, however imperfectly. And he attended a decent public school. None of those things are taken for granted. That Vance still felt such a vast gulf between his world and academe is a measure of our challenge. And it suggests there’s still a great deal our institutions can do to feel less foreign to our own students.

That means not just sharing information and simplifying processes, but also telling stories like Vance’s. It means avoiding the coded politesse that plays down the class divide and benefits of those on the winning side of it. Candor is not a cure-all, but Vance’s memoir makes a powerful case for a more honest accounting of what separates us.

Eric Johnson is assistant director for policy analysis and communications in the Office of Scholarships & Student Aid at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This essay reflects his personal views.


Is STEM Education in Permanent Crisis?

By Michael Marder-EdWeekxv36-10-op-1-copyright-peterhoey-jpg-pagespeed-ic-5rihxb0w4t

In 1983, “A Nation at Risk” raised grave concerns that America’s schools, particularly in the academic area we now call STEM, were damaging the country’s ability to compete. “If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war,” warned the report from a federally appointed commission. Twenty-two years later, “Rising Above the Gathering Storm,” a report from the National Academy of Sciences, leveled a similar charge: “[O]ur overall public school system—or more accurately 14,000 systems—has shown little sign of improvement, particularly in mathematics and science.”

How can education in science and mathematics be in such crisis for so long? If fixing the crisis has the urgency of responding to foreign attack, how can it be that after 33 years of warnings, we are still stuck?

or some student populations, there is improvement. The best measure of long-term performance is the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Long-Term Trend Assessment. For 9- and 13-year-old white, black, and Hispanic students, math scores have increased since they were first measured by NAEP in 1978. Schools moved racial and ethnic groups in middle school ahead by around four years of learning: In fact, the scores of black and Hispanic 13-year-olds in 2012 almost matched the scores of black and Hispanic 17-year-olds from 1978.

But high school Long-Term Trend NAEP scores tell another story: Flat since 1990, NAEP math scores understate the scale of our problem. The United States stands apart from Europe and Asia in its conception of how much science and math is appropriate for all students. The United States has a culture of lower expectations for its students—one that will be hard to change, even if we want to.

Our country’s single biggest obstacle is a perpetual STEM teacher shortage. In surveys of school districts, openings in physics, chemistry, and math are regularly near the top of the list of positions hardest to fill. As a result, a large percentage of high school STEM teachers have neither a college major nor minor in their main assignment, or they lack full certification. Forty percent of math teachers fall into one of these categories. In physics, chemistry, and earth science, the number is over 60 percent.

Why do we have this STEM teacher shortage? It exists because incentives to change it are weak. For students who major in a STEM subject, the decision to become a teacher can add time and cost to their degrees. Teaching jobs pay tens of thousands of dollars less per year than nonteaching jobs in science, technology, engineering, or math. For university colleges of science, where all STEM teachers take content coursework or get their degrees, every staff or faculty position devoted to preparing STEM teachers is one not devoted to STEM researchers bringing in grants.

For many companies reliant on a strong STEM workforce to remain competitive, there is an inexpensive alternative to using their money and influence to solve the STEM teacher shortage: Hire scientists and engineers born and educated abroad. Fifty-three percent of the Ph.D.-level computer scientists in this country were born abroad, and 75 percent of Ph.D.-level aerospace engineers. Those are staggering numbers.

In 2005, the “Gathering Storm” report suggested a coordinated response to the STEM crisis, including the goal of producing 10,000 new STEM teachers a year by providing $20,000 a year in college scholarships for STEM majors who committed to teaching; $10,000-a-year salary increases for STEM teachers in hardest-to-staff schools; and $5 million incentive packages to universities to create programs for STEM majors to get bachelor’s degrees and teaching certificates simultaneously.

The report highlighted UTeach, which I co-founded in the late 1990s and currently co-direct. UTeach integrates STEM bachelor’s degrees with teacher certification and has expanded to 45 universities in this country. More than 85 percent of our graduates become classroom teachers, and more than 60 percent of them are in schools with majority low-income populations. Retention rates are strong: After five years, more than 80 percent of those who began teaching are still in schools.

These efforts—and those of other programs—could enable the United States to greatly reduce the STEM teacher shortage. A recent survey of more than 6,000 current and recently graduated STEM majors, which was sponsored by the American Physical Society, indicates that 35 to 55 percent would consider middle or high school teaching. There is also encouraging news in the finding of a relationship between STEM departments where college faculty simply discuss the possibility of teaching and increased student interest. Furthermore, 80 percent of those considering teaching say that incentives such as scholarships would make them more likely to teach.

But federal scholarships for STEM teachers are funded at less than 10 percent of the level “Gathering Storm” recommended, and what STEM majors and new STEM teachers say they most want are better working conditions and higher salaries. These are the hardest goals to achieve.

The current election season underscores the profound discontent with economic prospects and income inequality in the United States. There is no clear solution on how to address it. But education must be part of the solution. Kids from all economic classes and ethnic groups must have true access to fields ranging from computer science to finance. And there will be no cheap online fixes. Unless we finally resolve to pay what it takes to prepare and retain teachers for key STEM subjects, the next 30 years, like the last 30 years, will find us still shocked that our kids are behind, held back by our permanent STEM crisis.


Smedberg Math Camp Highlights Students Natural Skills


On Saturday, September 24, 2016, Coalition for Educational Partnerships (CEP), a California GEAR UP parnter, hosted a Common Core Math Camp at Smedberg Middle School, located in Elk Grove, CA.

The Camp provided families with a deeper understanding of the State of California‘s adoption of the Smarter Balance Assessment; and how the Common Core Math Practices provide skills and concepts that offer students meaningful opportunities to succeed in college and careers

img_178314The CEP facilitator highlighted the students’ natural skills and abilities in a collaborative, project-based graphing activity. In addition to collecting ideas, families received resources to continue the learning at home with family, friends, and neighbors.


For more information about CEP, please visit their website.


ACT College and Career Readiness Campaign 2017


Established in 2013, the annual ACT College and Career Readiness Campaign celebrates achievement and creates awareness around the goal of college and career readiness for all. The Campaign recognizes exemplary college and career readiness efforts by employers, postsecondary institutions, high schools, and high school seniors in participating states. The California ACT Council, made up of California educators and leaders, will select its 2016-17 state exemplars this winter for spring recognition. The application is available online, and we will continue to accept applications through December 31, 2016. Please contact Mike DiNicola, ACT Southwest District Manager, at mike.dinicola@act.org with questions.

Direct Link to Employer Application:

Direct Link to Postsecondary Institution Application:

Reminder about the High School and High School Exemplar Selection Process:

 High School – ACT identified a select group of high schools in each state for the ACT College and Career Transition Award. High schools were identified based on ACT test data and high school demographics. Selected high schools received an email in late September explaining the Campaign process. Applications are due December 31, 2016.

High School Senior – ACT identified a select group of high school seniors in each state for the ACT Student Readiness Award. Students were selected based on information they provided ACT when they took the ACT test. Selected students received an email in late September explaining the Campaign process. Applications are due December 31, 2016.

Applications and criteria are online at www.act.org/readinesscampaign.

ACT is a partner of California GEAR UP.


Recognizing and Serving the Diversity of the Latina/o Community


More than Nuance: Recognizing and Serving the Diversity of the Latina/o Community

Desiree Zerquera
Assistant Professor, Department of Leadership Studies
University of San Francisco

Martin De Mucha Flores
Director of Early Academic Outreach Program, UC Berkeley
Doctoral Student, University of San Francisco

(Special thanks to Martin for contributing this article)

Much of our discussion in higher education upholds a homogeneous perspective of Latina/o student needs and experiences. More needs to be done to recognize the differences that exist for Latina/o student populations across the United States and the varying policy contexts of the states we work in when making decisions about how to best serve these students.

What’s the difference?

Nuñez and colleagues provided a succinct summary of key differences between Latina/o ethnic subpopulations in the US, highlighting distinctions in sociopolitical history. They note the shaping of the immigration experiences of Puerto Ricans (who are born US citizens) and Cubans (who are granted political asylum) which influences educational opportunity afforded to immigrants from these countries who do not face the same challenges as immigrants from other Latin American countries who may not have documentation.

Analysis of 2014 data from the US Census highlight educational attainment differences across Latinas/os. For instance,  less than 10 percent of Mexican, Honduran, and Salvadoran populations hold a bachelor’s degree, while 32 percent of Venezuelans and about 20 percent of Argentineans and Colombians have similar levels of degree attainment (see Figure 1). The uneven representation in bachelor’s degree completion is an example of the differences that exist across Latina/o subgroups. Still, much of the research that informs our work at the campus- and state-levels do not fully account for these differing contexts.

Differences are also true when comparing experiences of Latinas/os in different states. Nationally in 2013, over 42 percent of Latinas/os enrolled in higher education at community colleges (compared to 39 percent of non-Latinas/os), more than any other sector. While this may reflect general understandings that highlight the likelihood of Latinas/os to attend community colleges, the map presented in Figure 2 challenges this notion.  Higher concentrations of enrollments in four-year colleges by Latinas/os across the Southeast and Rocky Mountain states, as well as sprinklings in the Midwest and Northeast, demonstrate potential contextual differences within these regions that may contribute to the differing enrollment trends.

Figure 2. Concentration of Latina/o college enrollments by institution sector.

Source: Forthcoming manuscript, “Repositioning trends of Latina/o enrollments in community colleges” by D. Zerquera, N. Acevedo-Gil, E. Flores, & P. Maranthal.

The disconnect between national averages and state-by-state comparisons is better explained by numbers—over 15 million Latinas/os live in California alone, a state with a well-developed community college system and large enrollments in their two-year institutions. As this comprises more than a quarter of all Latinas/os in the US, the trends in this state have significant impacts on how data play out at the national level. This example shows that when national data are used to inform decision making, as opposed to data situated within your own state, it has the potential of distorting information. The trends presented in Figure 2 highlight a need for a state-focused perspective during decision making to ensure that funding, policies, and program development appropriately support Latino/a student success in your own state.

What can be done?

To make better decisions, we need better tools and to be better informed.

The Equity Scorecard developed by the Center for Urban Education provides a model for how to structure and use data to illuminate and address educational inequities. However, scorecards need to consider more than just standard demographic groups. For instance, matriculation information could be revised to ask students questions about nationality, in addition to race/ethnicity. This focused approach in paying attention to  Latina/o sub-groups can be used in analyses of student outcomes to better understand how Latina/o subgroups are differently served by policies and practices. This can then help inform policy and program evaluation to determine ways of better serving students. Particularly in states and on campuses with large and diverse Latina/o student populations, such as HSIs, policy and programmatic interventions can be developed or revised to address inequities that continue within the Latina/o population.

In addition to better tools we need decision makers to be better informed about the diversity of Latinas/os in their states and on their campuses. Even when there is Latina/o representation within these levels of decision-making, education surrounding the specific needs and experiences of the diverse Latina/o subgroups within the state are essential. Professional development that supports cultural fluency, provided by local community-based organizations such as Edúcate Ya in Portland, OR and Latino studies departments in colleges and universities may enhance the awareness of these needs, which can then translate into action for the benefit of all.

Undoubtedly, there is power in our collective voice in the realm of national politics and decision-making. Further, it is difficult within standard practices to not disaggregate already small numbers of individuals into even smaller groups. However, the need to understand the perspectives of diverse Latina/o subgroups is essential.  Without it we risk a grave disservice and silencing of already marginalized experiences. It is important that as we seek best practices in supporting Latina/o students on our campuses, or in developing and implementing policies that may affect thousands and millions of students in our states, that our perspective be conscious of the diversity among us and context-specific experiences.

Dr. Desiree Zerquera is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Leadership Studies at the University of San Francisco. She has worked as a researcher, student affairs practitioner, and higher education administrator. Her research focuses on how inequalities structure the experiences of underrepresented students in accessing and succeeding in higher education.

Martin de Mucha Flores is Director of Early Academic Outreach Program at UC Berkeley and a doctoral student at the University of San Francisco. He brings years of experience in supporting Latina/o pathways to college. His dissertation focuses on the role of activism of Chican@ community college leaders in student success.

More at: 

Celebrate National GEAR UP Week 2016!!!

2016 National GEAR UP Week – September 19-23!

Join thousands of students, parents, teachers, partners and college access professionals from across the nation to celebrate GEAR UP and the successes of your hard work and dedication!


National GEAR UP Week is an opportunity for you to raise awareness in your community about the positive impact GEAR UP is having locally.  It’s a time to engage all your stakeholders – local, state and federal elected officials, funders, partners, as well as local, state and regional media – to share your program’s accomplishments and to get them more involved with your services to students and families. Let’s  commemorate your hard work and the progress our students are making towards achieving their life-long dream of going to college!

one in a million