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Hispanic Sorority Members Adjust Better in College, Says Study

Hispanic Sorority Members Adjust Better in College, Says Study


      Students of all races often have trouble adjusting to college life. The adjustment period is sometimes even more difficult for minority students. But according to a new study, participation in Greek life may help ease the transition, at least for Hispanic women. The new study reports that Latinas belonging to sororities coped better in college than Latinas from a non-sorority group.

      Gina Garcia, a recent graduate student at the University of Maryland-College Park, presented her graduate thesis, “Adjustment to College, Social Support and Campus Climate for Latina Students” at the ACPA conference in Indianapolis this week.

      Using a nationwide sample of Latina students — including foreign-born students — the study found that Latina sorority members were better able to negotiate the different social and academic dynamic of college life than their non-sorority counterparts.

      Garcia, who is now a Title V Student Retention and Assessment Coordinator at California State University, Fullerton, said, “It was important for them to be surrounded by students who looked like them. They are looking for women who can bring the same kind of support a family brings.”

      Among other findings, the report showed that the length of time spent in the United States had little effect on the adjustment periods of either group. More telling of a factor was the size and type of the institution. Peer support played a large role in the overall adjustment for both groups. But while non-sorority Latinas generally relied on family and institutional support to aid in the transition process, sorority members were more likely to rely on each other.

      Garcia says the study reinforces the point that campus administrators should not view Hispanic students as a homogenous population. For some students, surrounding themselves with Hispanic peers may not be important.

   “[The study] also asks, ‘Are students accessing the services available to them?,’ she says.

   Although the research did not take into account non-traditional or commuter students, especially those from two-year colleges, it was important to recognize the pressures and commitment that Latina students bring to the college community, Garcia says.

By Shilpa Banerji

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