Two-Year Colleges across the Country are Getting Creative to Recruit Latino Students


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There is undeniable link between attaining a quality education and living a healthier life. The more education someone attains, the better their chances of living longer lives.

Attaining better education has become one of the most important topics for all Latinos. As their population grows, more and more Latinos are both enrolling in college and attaining degrees.

However, there are still barriers preventing many Latinos from attaining two- and four-year degrees. According to a story in Inside Higher Ed, community colleges across the country have seen growing populations of Latino residents in their regions.

That growth hasn’t often translated to increases in Latino enrollment on their campuses, especially as overall enrollments decline in a largely recovered economy. With that in mind, many schools are modeling the success that has been found at Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College in Bowling Green, KY (6.69% Latino population).

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The school has seen a surge in Latino student enrollment and the majority of it can be traced back to one idea: grow relationships. Addi Hernandez was an administrative assistant at the school. She found that, even though she was not a student or even a faculty member, Latino students would come to her to ask questions because they were comfortable with her.

Hernandez began doing outreach for the college part time, going into Latino neighborhoods and speaking at schools. Eventually, she accepted a full-time position as a recruiter and Latino outreach specialist for the campus.

“She’s a wonderful asset,” said Phil Neal, the college’s president. “We’ve seen a 25 percent increase in Latino students in just one year of her being in this role.”

The campus had about 180 Latino students last fall.

Other colleges have learned that the key to reaching out to Latino students requires more personal effort than just college fairs or new advertising.

“Fifteen years ago, when I came up through the student affairs world, we were very clear about training advisers and financial aid folks to really talk to the student,” said Deneece Huftalin, president of Utah’s Salt Lake Community College. “Often we had Mom and Dad come in with the student and want to be involved, and our goal was to pull the student away and say, ‘You’re an adult. We’re going to talk to you, not Mom and Dad.’ We wanted to empower this young person.”

Today, Huftalin has found, that approach doesn’t work for many Latino students.

“With the Latino population, it’s important to have Mom and Dad in the room, so we had to shift our perspective,” Huftalin said. “The family has become an important part of the decision, so recruiting goes beyond the old-school ways of going to high school and talking to the student. We’re in community centers … we’re more intrusive about going around and knocking on doors.”

Read more about this story here.

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