How to Better Serve Latino Students
Posted by Strada Education Network on October 26, 2021
Deborah Santiago’s parents always made clear she and her three siblings would go to college. But when she was a high school junior, her father, who served in the U.S. military, relocated to Spain along with the rest of the family — and suddenly, she had to navigate the college journey alone.
“I lived with a third cousin, and I stayed in the States while my parents went to Spain for three years,” Santiago recalled. “I had to figure it out: How do I apply? Where do I choose? How do I pay for it?”
Today, as chief executive officer of Excelencia in Education, Santiago draws on that experience in self-sufficiency as she helps higher education institutions learn to better serve Latino students.
Here are four things Excelencia recommends institutions consider as they try to improve Latino students’ success:
- Understand your specific student population. Hispanic students are not monolithic. The majority of Latino college students today are U.S.-born, native English speakers who may not need English language learner services but could need culturally relevant coaching and guidance.
- Improve diversity and equity among your faculty. Instructor representation on many campuses does not match or reflect the race, ethnicity, gender, or experience of students.
- Focus on wraparound services. Addressing personal as well as academic needs is critical to keeping students in school and on track toward earning their degrees.
- Look beyond college completion. Students often need guidance to find internships and jobs in their chosen field, as they study and once they graduate, Santiago said.
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