Aspirations and Expectations
Research indicates that overall Latino students have high aspirations for attending college. In a recent study of Latino students in an Atlanta high school Ibanez, Kupermine, Jurkovie, and Perilla (2004) found that 65 percent of Latino students aspired to postsecondary education, with 45 percent of those students hoping to obtain an advanced degree. According to a 2005 report by the Consortium of Chicago School Research, 91 percent of Chicago Latino student respondents indicated that they wanted to continue their education beyond high school, compared to 93 percent for all students (Roderick, Nagaoka, & Allensworth, 2006).
Despite high aspirations and the value that families place on education, the overall educational attainment of Latino students is quite low. Researchers from the Consortium of Chicago School Research found that the city’s Latino students are enrolling in postsecondary education at a rate much lower than their white peers (Roderick et al. 2006). Put a different way, Williams (2003) reports only 6 percent of Latinos who enter kindergarten in the U.S. earn a bachelor’s degree, compared to 16 percent of African Americans, 30 percent of Caucasians, and 49 percent of Asians. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 1995 Latinos made up only 4 percent of college graduates, a percentage far below their overall make up of the U.S. population (as cited in Castellanos & Jones, 2003).
The work of Bohon, Johnson, and Gorman (2006) addresses the important difference between “aspirations” (students’ hopes and dreams) and “expectations” (what students realistically think they will achieve). In a study of Atlanta high school students, Ibanez et al. (2004) discovered that students’ expectations were lower than their aspirations for college attendance, bringing to light the need for educators and families to increase students’ expectations of college attendance. Helping students see schooling as relevant to their future is key. Based on data gathered through a survey of ninth grade Latino students in a Midwestern school, Yowell (2002) concluded that educational interventions must help students build meaningful connections between students’ present circumstances and their aspirations for the future.