Hispanic Friendly Colleges
Learn what resources are available to Hispanic students at Hispanic friendly colleges.
By Ursula Furi-Perry
March 10, 2009
Academics, living arrangements, and costs may be at the top of your list of factors in choosing the right school, but experts say you should pay attention to one more thing: a school’s efforts to welcome students of your heritage.
“It is crucial for a college-bound student to select an institution that reflects his or her values, cultural heritage, and aspirations for self-improvement in a way that uplifts the student’s background,” explains Antonio Flores, Ph.D., President and CEO of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities. “The better the student-institutional fit, the greater the chances of student success.”
Is the College Committed?
Whether a college is committed to serving Latino students depends on a great number of factors, including “their track record of Hispanic graduation rates, compared to the overall student population; their equitable inclusion of Hispanic faculty and staff; their offering of academic programs or courses that reflect the Hispanic experience; their expressed and acted commitment to campus diversity; and their efforts to provide adequate financial aid and student support services,” Flores says.
If you want to find out whether an institution is welcoming towards Latino students, you might start with Hispanic Magazine’s list of the top 100 schools for Hispanic students. The list is updated yearly and provided in collaboration with the Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education. It looks at graduation rates and other achievements by Hispanic students, as well as the schools’ reputation and rankings.
Examples of Hispanic-Friendly Colleges
For two years in a row, Stanford University made top honors, and much of the top 25 list looks like any other ranking of the top colleges in America, with most ivy league schools making the cut. Yet Hispanic Magazine and Hispanic Outlook pride themselves on including other great schools that are dedicated to the advancement of Latino students—for instance, Florida International University, which some may not consider a top-tier school, graduates the most Hispanic students.
Hispanic Business Magazine also puts out top ten lists for the best schools in law, medicine, business and engineering. Again, Stanford took top honors in business and medicine, while the University of New Mexico School of Law was chosen as the best law school and the University of Texas at El Paso as the best engineering school for Latino students. The lists have been around since 1998 and are updated every year, says Michael Caplinger, Hispanic Business Magazine’s research supervisor. They factor in Hispanic representation among faculty and the student body, as well as schools’ rankings and reputation and the programs they undertake to attract Hispanic students and keep them once they get there.
Your Research Counts Too
Students can tell a lot about a school’s commitment to diversity by some simple research of their own. “Look for a quality group of people [on campus],” says Sandra Timmons, president of A Better Chance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to recruiting, identifying and developing leaders among young people of color.
“Talk with graduates from those institutions and degree programs to inquire about the quality of faculty and student support services,” Flores recommends. Other factors to consider include the availability of financial aid and eligibility requirements, the placement rate of graduates in occupations related to your field of study, and the perceived socio-cultural fit of the campus community with your background, says Flores.
Look at the numbers of Hispanic students and faculty, the variety of programs, opportunities and support available specifically to Hispanic students, and whether the school’s campus speaks to a broad range of diversity. Look for a place where you can fit into the campus as a whole—and not just get involved in the school’s Hispanic student association.
“Belonging is so important,” says Timmons. “When you get on these campuses, you have to make them yours. You should not have to sacrifice a rich part of your life just because you want to take advantage of opportunities.”
This article reprinted with permission from NextStep Magazine.