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Helping Latino students stay in college at Texas State University
Posted By Kim Hilsenbeck On July 18, 2012 @ 11:24 am In Featured,Schools | No Comments
by KIM HILSENBECK
Transitioning from high school to college can be tough for Latino students, according to recent research by Excelencia in Education, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that advocates for higher education success for Latinos.
The report shows that about 17 percent of Latino adults in Texas have an associate degree or higher, compared to 34 percent of all adult Texans.
Experts and advocates provide a litany of reasons why Latinos lag behind in college graduation rates including language barriers, a lack of role models who have gone to college and a lower socio-economic status.
Deborah Santiago, co-founder and vice president of policy for Excelencia in Education, told Hispanic Business magazine recently that she has seen progress and finds great hope.
“But we still have large gaps,” Santiago said.
A 2010 study by the American Enterprise Institute found that 51 percent of Hispanics who start college earn a bachelor’s degree within six years, compared to 59 percent of Anglo students.
In Texas, that number goes down to 40 percent of Hispanics who graduate within six years, compared to 45 percent of Anglo students.
The AEI report concluded these trends affect the nation’s economic future.
To meet President Obama’s goal of having 51 percent of Americans hold a college degree by 2020, Excelencia in Education says more than five million Latinos will need to earn degrees in the next eight years.
Down the road in San Marcos, Texas State University graduates about 50 percent of Hispanics within six years.
What’s so different about the Bobcats?
Two key explanations: a higher than average Hispanic student body, and hundreds of thousands in federal taxpayer-funded grants to help Hispanic students, particularly in their first year of college.
Texas State University is one of 19 U.S. colleges, with only five in Texas, designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution – defined as an institution of higher education with at least a 25 percent Hispanic undergraduate enrollment.
The Department of Education distributed $12.2 million just this year under this HSI program to strengthen and expand educational opportunities for Hispanic students. Between 1995 and 2005, according to the AEI report, the Department of Education awarded more than $550 million in HSI grants.
Texas State recently received nearly a half million dollars from the HSI grant, which falls under the Title V Program. The funds are not a scholarship or fellowship program for individuals or intended for research. The program is designed to support institutions of higher education designated as HSIs.
Money from the HSI program, originally authorized by President George W. Bush under the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007, is designed to make college more attainable for Hispanic students.
In addition to the grant money, Texas State University President Denise Trauth has taken additional steps to support Hispanic students, including recruiting more minority faculty members, adding more staff to their admissions office and staffing full-time recruiters in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and the Rio Grande Valley.
But Trauth said she didn’t just want to recruit more Hispanics; she wanted them to succeed.
So she put in place initiatives to have faculty members alert the administration to any first-year student who is isolated or struggling academically. Another change was pairing Hispanics that hail from parts of Texas with high dropout rates with an upperclassman from the same hometown.
The study shows that feeling a sense of identity and belonging is a big part of Hispanic culture. Heading off to college and being away from family has been cited as one reason first-year students have higher drop out rates than other groups.
All freshmen are also required to live on campus and urged to join at least one campus organization within the first six weeks.
“We are grateful to the Department of Education and all of our congressional supporters for this funding,” Trauth said. “This initiative bolsters our efforts through Texas State’s new Personalized Academic and Career Exploration Center, which aims to improve the academic advising process for our first-year students.”
U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, a senior member of the House Ways and Means and Budget Committees, was instrumental in helping Texas State receive money under the HSI program.
“This well-deserved award will help ensure that students beginning their higher education at Texas State are given every opportunity for success,” said Doggett.
Under the HSI grant rules, colleges are allowed to spend funds on:
• Faculty development
• Curriculum development
• Academic tutoring and mentoring
• Innovative courses that help retain students
• Student support programs to transition from a two-year to a four-year school; and
• Counseling services and financial information to improve the economic literacy of students and their families.
Yet the rules say universities can also spend the funds on:
• Scientific or laboratory equipment for teaching
• Construction or renovation of instructional facilities
• Purchasing educational materials
• Funds and administrative management
• Joint use of facilities
• Endowment funds; and
• Distance education technologies.
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URL to article: http://haysfreepress.com/2012/07/18/helping-latino-students-stay-in-college-at-texas-state-university/
URLs in this post:
 Image: http://haysfreepress.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Texas-State-Latinos1.jpg
 Colleges come together: ACC partners with Texas State for dual enrollment: http://haysfreepress.com/2013/03/13/colleges-come-together-acc-partners-with-texas-state-for-dual-enrollment/
 Texas State expects to exceed 35,000 undergrads this fall: http://haysfreepress.com/2012/04/05/texas-state-expects-to-exceed-35000-undergrads-this-fall/
 National College Advising Corps now at Texas State University: http://haysfreepress.com/2012/08/17/national-college-advising-corps-now-at-texas-state-university/
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