Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=150731
Story Retrieval Date: 9/23/2014 9:23:09 AM CST

Top Stories
Features

 Melissa Tussing/MEDILL

 Students at Cristo Rey High School on the school's near southwest side talk about the challenges they may, or may not, face as college-bound Latino students.


Most Hispanic students value college but only half plan to go, study finds

by Melissa Tussing
Dec 01, 2009


cristo_GRADUATION5

Data from the 2005 to 2009 Illinois State Report Cards, courtesy of the Illinois Board of Education

 From 2005 to 2009, Latino students had some of the lowest graduation rates of any ethnic group. For 2009, Hispanic students had a graduation rate of 76.8. Black students had a graduation rate of 76.7.

cristo_READING2

 Data from the 2005 to 2009 Illinois State Report Cards, courtesy of the Illinois State Board of Education

 Latino students are second to last in the percentage of students who meet or exceed standards of reading during the eleventh grade. Data based on student scores on the Prairie State Achievement Examination.

CRISTO_science2

 Data from the 2005 to 2009 Illinois State Report Cards, courtesy of the Illinois State Board of Education

 Hispanic students hold a strong second to last place in science scores on the Prairie State Achievement Examination.

CRISTO_math2

  Data from the 2005 to 2009 Illinois State Report Cards, courtesy of the Illinois State Board of Education

 Hispanic students are far below the general population numbers for students who meet or exceed standards for math on the Prairie State Achievement Examination.

Related Links

Pew Hispanic CenterChicago GEAR UP

Key findings of the Pew Research Center report

  - Eighty-nine percent of all Hispanics agree a college degree is important for getting ahead in life. Seventy-four percent of the general public said the same.

- Just under half - 48 percent - of Latinos ages 18 to 25 said they plan to receive at least a bachelor's degree. Sixty percent of all young adults 18 to 25 said the same.

 - Sixty-percent of native-born young Latinos ages 16 to 25 said they want to receive at least a bachelor's degree.

 - Twenty-nine percent of foreign-born young Latinos ages 16 to 25 said they want to receive at least a bachelor's degree.

 - Fifteen percent of Latino students in high school said high school would be the extent of their education.

The survey is based on a bilingual telephone survey of about 2,012 Hispanics ages 16 to 25.

 


 

Latino students value a college education more than the average teen or twenty something. But less than half plan to go to college themselves, according to a Pew Hispanic Center study released in October.



For education advocates like Jeanne Barnas, the report accurately reflects the attitudes of Latino students in Chicago schools. 



“In our experience over the past 10 years…we have found the same thing,” said Barnas, communications manager of GEAR UP, a program partnered with Chicago Public Schools to prepare Chicago students - many of them Hispanic - for college. “While the percentage of students surveyed state an intention to go to college, the percentage who actually apply, and subsequently attend college, is much lower.” 



The study findings show that young Latinos value education more than the general population -- 89 percent of Latinos between the ages of 16 and 25 said college was important for success, while 84 percent of all young people said the same. 



But the number of Latinos planning to attend college is lower. Only 48 percent said they planned to go to college themselves, compared with 60 percent of all young adults.


There’s fewer Latino students in college, as well. Study findings show that among 18 to 24-year-olds, 34 percent are enrolled in college. But among 18 to 24-year-old Latino students, only 24 percent are enrolled in college. 

The Pew report identified several factors that may explain the findings: economic, cultural and personal.


Of Latino students who did not choose to go to college, half said it was because their English skills were limited. Forty-two percent of students said it was because they didn’t like school. Thirty-nine percent said they didn’t need any more education for the career they want and 21 percent said their grades were not high enough.


The most prevalent reason, though, was financial. Seventy-four percent of Latino young adults who are not going to college said it was because they need to help support their families.

In addition, Barnas said families are unaware of the financial aid available for their children.  Even filling out a Free Application for Student Financial Aid application (FASFA), the national form that determines a student’s eligibility for federal financial aid, can make families feel uncomfortable.


Also, many have parents who did not attend college. 

“The lack of knowledge on the parents’ part of the college selection and application process leaves the students without any strong level of family support, leaving it up to the student to figure out,” Barnas said.



Latino students are having trouble even before reaching the college application process. 

New data from the 2009 Illinois State Report Card shows that the graduation rate for Latinos was  lower than almost every other ethnic group. And  they scored among the lowest in  11th grade standardized tests.


 Such data is indicative of the lack of knowledge students have in terms of what grades, skills and higher level classes are required to go to college, Barnas said.


"For some students, while they may desire to go to college, they did not do the academic preparation early enough in high school to meet college entrance requirements," she said.


Rev. Hector Garfias-Toledo said even honor students at his congregation in Aurora couldn’t attend college. 

“They get to the point where they have to start working because they have a single mom or there’s financial trouble in the house and the parents expect them to work,” said Garfias-Toledo, director for evangelical mission for the Chicago Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. 



According to the Pew study, parents value a college education almost as much as their children. Seventy-seven percent of Latino youth said their parents thought a college education was the most important path after high school.



But sometimes the needs of the family come first, Barnas said. 


"The Hispanic culture values family, making it difficult for them to let their children go away to school,” Barnas said. “In addition, for the first generation families, because of language barriers, the children are expected to act as English-language interpreters for the parents.”



Such cultural pressure to support the family means working is seen as more important than a college degree, said Northwestern sophomore Jean Montano. 

“People are expected to fulfill their family duties, whether that be take care of parents or start a family of their own,” said Montano, who is from San Salvador.  “Selfish things like getting a degree aren't the top priority when there's a family to attend to.”