Social Capital and the Road to Higher Education for the Hispanic Student
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Although the number of Hispanics attending higher education has been increasing in recent years, Hispanic graduation rates are still markedly behind those of non-Hispanic whites. The percentage of Hispanic persons age 25 and over receiving a bachelor’s degree or higher is 12 percent whereas 30.5 percent of all non-Hispanic whites obtain a degree (NCES 2010). Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin make up 15.8 percent of the United States population. Using a quantitative data analysis of 2,234 Hispanic high school students from the 2002 Education Longitudinal Study (ELS), this study examines issues and barriers faced by 10th grade Hispanic students and the impact that these factors have on their educational aspirations. Variables analyzed include the relationship between family structure, language and literacy, socio-demographic background, social capital and educational aspirations. Findings from this study suggest that there is a significant relationship between social capital (as measured by parental involvement in their child’s education) and educational aspirations. As the population of Hispanic youth increases, it is imperative that we understand how social and cultural factors shape academic achievement.