Perceptions About Higher Education Among Parents of Hispanic Students in Middle School: Implications for Community Colleges

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Although the Hispanic population is growing at a much faster rate than other populations, college enrollment rates are relatively low compared to Anglos and African Americans. One of the reasons for the low enrollment rate is that the relatively high dropout rate among Hispanic high school students reduces the number of Hispanic students eligible to enroll in college. Because community colleges represent the primary choice for higher education among Hispanics, these institutions are well positioned to evaluate ways in which community colleges could work with local school districts to increase the pool of Hispanic students eligible to enroll in community college. The present study, which was conducted by researchers at a community college in Texas, involved a survey of all parents of Hispanic children enrolled in grades 4-8 at a nearby urban school district. The survey included questions related to the value parents place on higher education, the degree to which they understand financing options including grants and scholarships, and the degree to which they are actively saving money to send their child(ren) to college. The results show that parents of Hispanic children strongly believe in the value of higher education. However, two-thirds of the respondents believed that their children would receive an academic scholarship and nearly the same proportion was unaware of the different financial assistance programs available for college. Implications for these and other findings for community colleges are discussed.