This paper reports findings from ongoing research partnerships with inclusive classrooms and selective and competitive outreach programs that seek to connect school-based, college-based, and college-based careers to Latino and other underrepresented youth. Results are based on qualitative methods (interviews, field observations, and case studies) and quantitative methods (surveys, grades, test scores, and statistical analyses) involving more than 850 students. This study sought to answer the following questions:

a. What is the history/history of immigration and parental education?

B. What challenges do students’ families, peers, schools, and communities present, and what resources do these different “worlds” provide?

c. What are students’ pathways through the classes required for college eligibility? And

Dr.. How do students’ family backgrounds, resources, challenges across realms, and school trajectories predict college eligibility and enrollment?

In answering these questions, five key findings are unearthed about how Latino children build their paths to college admissions.

Conclusion 1: Demography is not destiny, but democracy requires vigilance

Demographic profiles of students participating in competitive outreach programs revealed very different patterns of African Americans and Latinos. African American students in the competitive program sample, and all but one child born in the United States, were more likely to have college-educated American parents. Latino students, more than 19% of whom were born outside the country, are more likely to have immigrant parents with a high school education or less. Thus, the African American youth in the sample were following their parents’ paths into college, and the Latino youth were beginning to outpace their parents’ education. However, in other research studies, different rates of participation across social class, immigration generation, and gender in college outreach programs have been consistently found among African American and Latino youth, who are similarly underrepresented in four-year colleges throughout the world. California. ; And there is concern about why more low-income African Americans and second and third generation Latino youth are not participating in outreach programs. One possibility is that the Saturday and Summer Academy outreach programs clashed with the students’ work schedules. Another is that the distribution of recruitment information and outreach programs do not reach all families equally.

When factors predicting students’ long-term school trajectories were examined, little predictive power was found in the family demographic backgrounds of Latin American or American families. Other research shows associations between parental education and children’s academic success, so why wasn’t it found here? One possibility is that parental education generally predicts activities such as children’s involvement in programs such as those in this study. Focusing only on students in such programs may prevent the effect of parental education from being discovered. But families’ actions may matter more than demographic background.

Outcome 2: Ethnically diverse youth begin to develop career and college goals in childhood from unique challenges and resources across their worlds

One hundred and sixteen sixth-grade Mexican students who applied to a selective community college outreach program described dreams of becoming doctors, lawyers, nurses, and teachers, as well as secretaries, police officers, firefighters, and mechanics. The challenges the children faced in achieving their dreams included not having enough money to pay for school, as well as the expectations of family members and peers. The children saw their families (parents, siblings, and cousins); their teachers, school counselors, and coaches; their friends; and themselves as their greatest resource.

Outcome 3: Math paths to college diverge early but some get back on track

Math classes and grades are useful indicators of college eligibility and job prospects. In the competitive program sample, trajectories were found to regress slowly, regress rapidly, ramp up, and “get back on track” (decline and then increase). Youth who remained on track or back on track for college eligibility and enrollment found resources from families, teachers, coaches, educators, or youth workers and reported challenges from modest sibling and parent education levels.

Outcome 4: Challenges and resources in students’ lives affect program participation, college eligibility, enrollment, and progression

Addressing the realities of students’ lives—at home, at school, in the community, and with friends—is critical to program improvement and cost-effectiveness. In the inclusive classroom sample, parents considered their primary role to be the moral guide for their children and sought to protect their children from the negative influences of peers. For these parents, a strong moral upbringing includes support for academic achievement. However, not all parents are aware of the academic hardships their children face. For example, Mexican immigrant parents had high aspirations for their children to become doctors, lawyers, or teachers; However, not many were aware that these goals required a college education.

Teachers and school counselors can act as institutional gatekeepers when they assess students against standardized achievement standards that determine eligibility for college preparatory, vocational, or remedial classes. When elementary school teachers and counselors place Latino students disproportionately into low-ability special education classes and reading and math groups, they are sending those students toward remedial pathways in middle and high schools. But teachers and counselors — of any ethnic background — can also serve as cultural mediators helping Latino children succeed in school and pursue their dreams.

Students report that religious, athletic, and outreach organizations and leaders have influenced them to obtain jobs that will help their communities. For these reasons, underrepresented youth and their families often benefit from the active support of community organizations that connect school, college, and college-based careers.

Outcome Five: Components of Effective Bridging Programs

Beginning in elementary school, teachers can discuss the connections between career dreams and going to college, determine grade point averages and scholarships, and explain practical college issues that may be meaningful to school-age children. Such education can excite young children about college and help them set realistic goals for getting there. At the middle school level, tutoring by college students, parent engagement activities, and academic advising can help “at-risk” students stay on track toward college. Continuing these programs into high school, in addition to increasing minority enrollment in college preparatory classes, will also help swell college enrollment.

In helping Latino youth find paths to success, programs can forge cross-generational connections that include senior employees and the youth and families they serve. These loose-knit networks can nurture new leadership with the cultural skills today’s children need to succeed in an increasingly diverse world.

Young Employees also provides an opportunity for children to talk and write about their dreams of jobs, education, families, and their communities. Young adults value student home communities, and many share a common language and family history with the children. Many have learned to be bicultural and can impart their understanding of how to maintain community traditions while entering and succeeding in schools, colleges or local government. In the selective program sample, it was found that, like Latino parents, young employees defined success in life in moral terms and in terms of success in school. In mentoring the youth, the employees drew on the positive and negative aspects of their past experiences. They understood the importance of grades, helped children with homework, and provided a broad vision for schools, colleges, and other major institutions that helped children connect their families, school, and community to their personal dreams and fears about the future.

Our common goal is to enhance access to higher education for children from diverse racial, ethnic and economic groups. The United States’ ability to be a nation “where diversity works” depends on tailoring outreach programs to communities while attending to common goals and collaboration among many diverse stakeholders—students, families, schools, community organizations, legislators, business, and the media. These goals will be achieved by building clear conceptual models of change, testing them with evidence, and enhancing communication among stakeholders. Students’ progress through the academic pipeline from kindergarten to college and careers is often depicted like a ball rolling straight through a sturdy pipe. On the contrary, unlike a ball, which remains unchanged as it moves through the tube, students change as they progress through elementary school, middle school, and high school toward college and adulthood. Indeed, the developmental trajectories of students look more like those of explorers navigating through unexplored territories, here are the worlds of families, peers, schools, and communities; As students pursue their school, career, and other personal goals, they encounter barriers that may divert or halt their progress. Finally, unlike the strong tube, programs that offer bridges across gaps or barriers in students’ trajectories themselves change in response to funding sources, pressures, and losses, as well as the shifting political sands.

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