From this review there is a clear sense that success with regard to community college students is determined by their ability to successfully complete the first term of study, as well as by their ability to receive financial aide that adequately covers costs. Additionally, offering culturally diverse social interactions through both official and unofficial means also assists the minority student in achieving success through peer relations and potentially through recognition of role models.
In an experimental group establishing a residential learning community overall success in academic performance as well as satisfaction of first year attendance was achieved by students in this group. The group set out to establish early connections in college through a collective that allowed them greater opportunity for peer and mentor access, a situation that would likely greatly benefit the Latino student, inside or outside the Hispanic college community. (Johnson & Romanoff, 1999, p. 385) the reason for this assumed success is likely associated with the fact that for many people, and especially minorities the college experience is a foreign experience that is largely independently driven, and without peer and/or mentor guidance. The academic decisions of first time students, and especially first generation students should be assisted, when needed, especially in special circumstances and guiding such students through making choices and building mentor access will likely benefit them greatly by offering them a secondary support system, similar to family, with more focused goals on academic success. (Mcconnell, 2000, p. 75)
The development of a social support network that identifies with the demands of college, rather than the demands of economy but that is sensitive to cultural familial and economic demands could greatly benefit the Hispanic student in success in community college and further education. Though it is not to say that all Hispanic families are working class, many are and the economic struggle does not always reflect the consistent cultural demand for higher education, in a mostly practical sense. Strong family ties in the Hispanic population then become both an asset and a liability for some students because sacrifice for the sake of immediate economic gain is often an overriding principle of the familial group. (Slavin & Calder n, 2001, p. 92) "The families in the Fordham study suggest that the ability to maintain an intact family confers considerable social and economic benefits to parents and their children." (Chavez, 1991, p. 146) Maintaining the strength of a family is overall one of the most important of all measures of success for the individual seeking higher education and sensitivity to familial needs and responsibilities must be an essential part of the college experience for Hispanic students. If such responsibilities are ignored, by say increasing class loads, increasing admittance requirements, increased tuition or reduced financial support the system will likely continue to offer a significant barrier to the success of Hispanic students.
Independent or self-driven systems have been the stress of college education success training for centuries, yet supplementing the teaching of these strategies with mentoring and peer support would likely greatly improve the success rate of many community college learners, and especially high risk students such as Hispanic students. (Dembo, 2000, p. 6, 47) Peer relations that are culturally specific and/or diverse would also assist students in their attempts to maintain and achieve success as such groups would allow the opportunity to seek out support systems that better associate students with the particular demands of their culture as well as offering them in the case of culturally diverse interactions the opportunity to see the similarities between themselves and the dominant culture in the community college setting. Teaching independent motivation tactics is indeed essential to college success but such teaching must emphasize the needs of students to better understand the college experience through peer relations and mentoring as well as through early educational intervention supporting family understanding of long-term goals. (Slavin & Calder n, 2001, p. 79) in the past education was seen as a way to improve family status, and many Hispanic families fought long and difficult battles to achieve such a goal for their children. In the modern sense the educational level of attainment for relative economic success has risen but barriers continue to rise for such individuals with regard to post secondary education. (Guerin-Gonzales, 1994, p. 70)
The continuing trend in higher education to restrict admittance to individuals who do not test well is alarming, especially at the community college level, as such a system does not test for success but rather simply tests for testing skills. Additionally, limiting the subsidization of education through repeatedly increasing the out of pocket expenses associated with attending college at all levels without increasing financial aide offerings is also troubling to Hispanic student success, as these two barriers offer the most likely markers of failure to achieve college success at any level. The real need to acknowledge the importance of peer and mentor relations for Hispanic students to help them transition through the culture shock of college as well as the increased time and financial demands of such an experience is also crucial to the future success of Hispanic students seeking community college admittance and success.
Though a reversal of the testing and financial trends are unlikely in the near future the answer may lay in specific cultural resource offerings from outside sources. The community college is a place where all people, from every race and class should be given an opportunity to enter post secondary education through a door that is both flexible and accommodating. If one is able to navigate this systems through additional family and peer/mentor support then all goals in the future have a greater chance of being met, regardless of race. Institutional racism sometimes takes on very subtle forms, often in the form of legislation that is intended to help rather than hurt the population. Civic social responsibility to seek and allow for the development of higher education goals should be stressed from the very first day that an individual attends school of any kind, and stressing this, through actions and words, within strong family and community ties, such as is found in the Hispanic community and family could make the difference between outstanding academic success and therefore future academic success and creating a class and race driven permanent working class. The recognition of this, like many other issues, seems to wax and wane with the political and social climate of the nation, but understanding the unintended effects of proposed and passed legislation may be the first step in curbing the increasing barriers of exclusivity and elitism in education.
Baltimore, L. (1995). Collaboratives: Helping Hispanic students succeed. Thought & Action, 11, pp. 67-85.
Byrd, K.L., & Macdonald, G. (2005). Defining College Readiness from the Inside Out: First-Generation College Student Perspectives. Community College Review, 33(1), 22.
Chavez, L. (1991). Out of the Barrio: Toward a New Politics of Hispanic Assimilation. New York: Basic Books.
Dembo, M.H. (2000). Motivation and Learning Strategies for College Success a Self-Management Approach. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Guerin-Gonzales, C. (1994). Mexican Workers and American Dreams: Immigration, Repatriation, and California Farm Labor, 1900-1939. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Herideen, P.E. (1998). Policy, Pedagogy, and Social Inequality: Community College Student Realities in Post-Industrial America. Westport, CT: Bergin & Garvey.
Johnson, J.L., & Romanoff, S.J. (1999). Higher Education Residential Learning Communities: What Are the Implications for Student Success?. College Student Journal, 33(3), 385.
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