Embracing Latino Students for a Brighter Future
The recent Supreme Court ruling reversing affirmative action has sent shockwaves through the educational landscape and communities of color alike. With barriers for students who have faced historical discrimination and inequality, it’s crucial for colleges to support and empower Latino students during this time. As all families continue to believe in the importance of a college degree for getting ahead in life, higher education institutions can play an increasingly important role in leveling the playing field for students.
The Progress We’ve Achieved
Over the past five decades, we’ve witnessed a remarkable increase in college enrollment for Latino and Black students. Thanks in part to affirmative action, studies by the National Center for Education Statistics indicate that college enrollment for people of color surged from 9% to 50% – with Latinos now representing 20% of the student body across higher education institutions.
This progress has been a testament to the power of federal laws in broadening access to education. As the National Conference of State Legislatures indicates in their report on Ensuring Latino Success in College and the Workforce, Latinos who receive a college education gain access to higher-demand jobs that tend to pay “higher wages, improve their living standards and increase their financial contribution to state economies.”
The Risks That We Face
Despite decades of progress, the gains that colleges and Latino students have made are now at risk. The elimination of affirmative action may result in many Latinos feeling unwelcome on college campuses and will likely deter them from pursuing higher education.
Moreover, a reduction in the number of minority students will impact the overall quality of our educational system. Less diversity means fewer voices to advocate for change, diminished representation, and a shift in the discourse on important issues.
For students and families that understand how diversity adds value to a college education, schools that don’t attract a multicultural population become less attractive and their education could be perceived as obsolete.
The Importance of Latino Students
It’s imperative that our society at large encourages Latino students to pursue higher education. Their presence in our institutions is crucial, as schools today find themselves in a unique position to educate young leaders.
By pursuing an education and aspiring to positions of influence, Latino students can elevate the community as a whole. But without affirmative action, getting these students to college is the challenge that admissions officers now face.
How can colleges and universities support diversity and inclusion of Latino students? It starts with building the belief that Latinos/as/es can access higher education. By letting minority students know that your school sees them and believes in their ability to contribute to a brighter future, your institution can support an entire community to pave the path forward.
Supporting Diversity Remains a Priority
Contrary to common belief, many colleges across the country continue to take active steps to prioritize diversity. Regardless of the Supreme Court’s decision, numerous progressive institutions are actively taking measures to support minority students.
Here are a few of the initiatives that schools have taken to show their commitment to diversity:
1. Tailor Your Institutional Messaging: Students are paying close attention to the language that schools use on their websites, social media messages, and marketing materials. Colleges and universities that prioritize equal access to education will catch the eye of minority students, making them feel valued, supported, and encouraged to enroll.
Questions to ask yourself when targeting diverse students include:
- Does our school speak to students and families in their language?
- Do we have a strategy to communicate with Latino students and their parents?
- Is our messaging culturally relevant?
- Do we understand the issues faced by the community?
2. Offer Financial Support for Low-Income Students: While race may not be a determining factor in financial aid, schools can still offer scholarships to low-income students. Historically, minority communities often come from lower backgrounds, and these financial incentives can make higher education more accessible.
When taking this approach, ask yourself:
- Can our organization provide financial incentives to local families under a certain income level?
- How do we advertise these opportunities?
- Does our education provide a true return on investment?
- Do our communications reflect how we help minorities create generational wealth?
3. Plan Minority Recruitment Events: In response to the reversal of affirmative action, many colleges now actively recruit in historically diverse locations. By visiting high schools with large Latino communities, sending mailers to multicultural neighborhoods, and participating in college fairs in diverse cities your school can actively seek students whose backgrounds reflect your institutional values.
Before sending out informational packets, consider the following:
- Will my marketing materials resonate with the target audience?
- Are we portraying the type of college experience that Latino students desire?
- What are the best ways to reach them?
- Once we meet in person, will we be able to continue creating an experience that reflects our school’s commitment to diversity?
Unlocking Opportunities for Latinos
Latinos need to remember that access to higher education is their right, not a privilege. With a college degree that offers more than classroom knowledge, Latino students will look forward to better job opportunities, professional success, and financial security. And as an institution, your college can be the key that unlocks high-paying jobs and workforce equality.
If fostering diversity in higher education is a paramount objective for your school, Moira can help you support Latino students as you continue the growth and progress of your educational institution. By crafting a culturally-relevant strategy that represents your college’s values, we can partner with you to ensure that higher education remains accessible and inclusive for all.