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Study: Hispanics in the West Perceive Roadblocks To College


Hispanics aspiring to college see themselves as facing more roadblocks than their White counterparts, concludes a study led by a University of Oregon professor.

Professor Ellen Hawley McWhirter of the Oregon’s School of Education says many of the problems are not subject to a quick fix.

The study, which appears in the February issue of the quarterly Journal of Career Assessment, involved 436 Mexican-American and White students in the Southwest and Midwest. McWhirter says preliminary findings from research under way in the Northwest suggest similar results.

While aspirations for a college degree were equal between Mexican-Americans and Whites who participated in the study, 10 percent of Mexican-Americans got a degree versus 34 percent of Whites, even though more Hispanics than ever are attending college.

“The most striking findings were the degree to which the Mexican-Americans not only anticipated that they were more likely to encounter barriers, but that these would be more difficult to overcome,” McWhirter wrote.

Established theory in her field of counseling and psychology, she wrote, is that “those who perceived more barriers will be less likely to turn their career interests into goals and their goals into outcomes.”

The study found that the educational level of parents makes little difference in a student’s confidence of overcoming perceived roadblocks.

According to McWhirter, parents often don’t know how to guide children through preparation for college or scholarship applications.

“As educators we also need to do more outreach to Latino parents and families,” she says, adding that isolation also plays a factor.

“[Latino] parents often don’t feel welcome within a school system; there may be communication difficulties when they already feel partly marginalized,” she said.

— Associated Press


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