July 26 2002

Tomas Rivera Policy Institute Releases Country’s Most Comprehensive Study on Latino Parents College Knowledge

Institute Offers Real Solutions to Increase Latino College Enrollment

In the most comprehensive study of Latino parents ever conducted, the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute (TRPI) Center for Latino Educational Excellence revealed key findings on the lack of knowledge Latino parents face when it comes to knowing what it takes to get their children into college. The study also offers solid recommendations to increase college enrollment and close the knowledge gap.

Researchers presented “College Knowledge: What Latino Parents Need to Know and Why They Don’t Know It” to more than 50 community leaders in Los Angeles and presented policy recommendations to increase Latino college matriculation.

“The study shows that by the year 2015, Latinos will have the lowest percent of college graduates of any major ethnic group in the United States,” said Dr. Harry Pachon, president of TRPI. “In order for this statistic to change, high schools, colleges, and parents must work together to assure students the opportunity to attend college.”

Through a telephone survey of more than 1,000 Latino parents in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles, and detailed case-study interviews of 41 of those parents, researchers found 65.7% of the parents failed a mini-test on factual college knowledge.

The findings suggest that unless these knowledge deficits are remedied, Latino children are likely to miss out on crucial steps leading to college. According to Dr. Lou Tornatzsky, Senior Investigator for the study, there is a stereotype among the academic community that Hispanic parents don’t think about college for their children. Yet, he says 96% of the parents surveyed expected their children to go to college. The report also found that the knowledge deficits were significantly lower among parents with lower incomes and educational backgrounds as well as among first-generation immigrants.

“Latino parents need to learn how to be actively involved in shepherding their children through this process,” said Maria Casillas, president, Families in Schools. “However, in order to play a positive role, parents must know about the prerequisites and what actions need to be taken and when.”

The California State University Vice Chancellor, Louis Caldera, said that although the CSU is renowned for its success in attracting and educating a highly diverse student body, the report recommendations have challenged the CSU to consider new ways to improve its outreach efforts, especially to low-income, Spanish speaking parents. “Overcoming language barriers will be key to improving the effectiveness of our outreach and on-campus visitation programs as a primary source of knowledge about what it takes to get into and succeed in college,” Caldera said.

The TRPI researchers also made several recommendations in the report to remedy the deficit in college knowledge including:

 Make increased college knowledge a priority among Latino advocacy, political, and cultural organizations.

 Make increased college attendance a performance metric for the ongoing assessment of secondary schools.

 Launch a long-term public service announcement (PSA) campaign encompassing both Spanish-language and English-language radio and TV.

 Launch increased and focused college knowledge outreach to Latino parents in low-socio-economic status communities.

 Increase the number of high school counselors and teachers who are genuinely bilingual.

 Working with college admissions offices, increase the use of “college rooms” in high schools.

The Institute also compiled answer to the ten necessary questions all parents should know in order to begin preparing their children for college admission.

Founded in 1985, the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute advances critical, insightful thinking on key issues affecting Latino communities through objective, policy-relevant research, and its implications, for the betterment of the nation.

Return to the Frontpage