Preparing Latino Students for College and Career Success
October 03 2011
Getting ready to travel the road to college must start early. Students need to understand what it takes to prepare for and succeed in college. They need a road map and help from their families, counselors, mentors—and, they need to know what resources are available to them.
- We know from the available data that Latino student achievement lags far behind their White peers. Many Latino students simply do not have access to the resources and tools they need to be successful in school and preparing for college can seem too difficult or overwhelming. With access to good information and a little planning, however students and their families can do what is needed. So, what can students and families do to prepare for college? Here are some helpful tips to help with the process. First, remember that nothing is more important than a student’s academic record. Students and parents need to keep track of student records and portfolio, and they should know how colleges use this information.
- Know what information colleges focus on when looking at applications—Grade point averages (GPAs), courses, test scores, class rank, activities, personal qualities, leadership experience, and community involvement are among the factors colleges consider.
A student’s four-year high school plan should be developed during the eighth grade.
Courses Recommended for College Preparation:
--4 years of English
--3–4 years of mathematics, including rigorous courses in algebra I, geometry, and algebra II
--3–4 years of science, including rigorous courses in biology, chemistry, and physics
--3 years of social studies
--1–2 year of fine or performing arts
--Competitive schools consider the above list to be the minimum requirements. Take challenging courses, and consider their content, level, and rigor.
--Successfully completing additional courses like speech, trigonometry, calculus, foreign languages, physics, and advanced history courses will help immensely.
Grade nine—when a student becomes a freshman, everything starts to count. Freshman grades, courses, and credits all become part of a student’s transcript.
1. Plan ahead
2. Start to build a relationship with counselors and teachers
3. Start a portfolio
4. Monitor academic progress
5. Get involved in a variety of activities
6. Select appropriate tenth-grade courses
7. Research and learn about colleges
8. Look for meaningful summer activities or community-service activities
Grade 10—sophomores should start to identify their abilities, aptitudes, and interests. This is the year students look for ways to further develop talents and skills.
1. Continue to monitor academic progress
2. Continue involvement in activities, and personal interest
3. Start to use the SAT-PLAN or ACT’s Explore Program
4. Prepare for the PSAT
5. Continue to explore colleges and look for local college fairs (to collect college information)
6. Explore scholarships
7. Select appropriate 11th-grade courses
8. Look for meaningful and important activities
Grade 11—The junior year is crucial in the college planning process, because students take standardized tests, make college visits, narrow down the college list, searching for scholarships, writing application essays, and learning more about financial aid. In addition, keep track of academic courses.
1. Continue to monitor academic progress
2. Continue involvement in activities, personal interests, and taking on leadership roles
3. Take advanced courses, including advanced math, English, and/or science courses
4. Take the PSAT in October to qualify for National Merit and other scholarships
5. Start to visit colleges
6. Keep updating the portfolio
7. Register for the SAT and/or ACT early in the spring
8. Collect information about colleges (including entrance requirements, tuition, room and board costs, course offerings, student activities, and financial aid)
9. Start working on scholarship applications
10. Meet with a counselor to review records and discuss college plan
11. Narrow college choices and set up appointments for the top three choices
12. Look for meaningful activities for the summer (including jobs or internships in a field of interest)
13. Prepare a challenging senior-year schedule
14. Contact early those who will be writing recommendations and/or nominations
15. Start working on application essays
Grade 12—senior year is when it all comes together.
1. Continue to monitor academic progress—grades are important all-year-long, remember colleges require submission of a final transcript
2. Keep a calendar for the year
3. Take the SAT or ACT if necessary
4. Get counselors, teachers, and mentor to help with your college applications, personal statements, and essays
5. Provide information to those who will be writing recommendations and/or nominations
6. Complete scholarships applications on time
7. Complete the FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid in January
8. Complete all college applications, and essays in time to meet closing deadlines
9. Keep portfolios updated with copies of all applications, essays, and necessary documents
10. Contact colleges to make sure they have received all information
11. Make a college decision by the acceptance deadline
12. Make sure all final information is submitted to the college, including final transcripts
13. Pay attention to deadlines—(e.g. tuition payments, room and board, freshman orientation)
14. Write thank-you notes to everyone who provided support or a letter before college starts.
College Board – www.collegeboard.com
ACT – www.act.org
Hispanic Scholarship Fund – www.hsf.net
Hispanic College Fund – www.hispanicfund.org
Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute – www.chci.org
FAFSA – www.fafsa.ed.gov
Gates Millennium Scholars Program – www.gmsp.org
Issues: Education Policy Team, Youth
Geography:California, Far West, Midwest, Northeast, Southeast, Texas