3 ways Texas colleges are raising graduation rates for Latino students

The number of Latino high school graduates is projected to increase by at least 50% from 2014, peaking at about 920,000 graduates around 2025.

And many of those students are choosing to go to college—the number of Latino college students has tripled in the past two decades to 3.6 million.

But colleges and universities are still lagging behind in supporting this growing population, according to research from The Education Trust. In 2015, the graduation rate for Latino students was 10 percentage points behind the national average for white students at four-year institutions.

Writing for the Dallas Morning News, Eva-Marie Ayala rounds up strategies that colleges in Texas are using to support their population of Latino students.

Revamped advising: Both the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) have added new staff and offices where students can go for advice, such as "graduation help desks." They've also made academic advising more personal and redesigned gateway courses such as math to offer more academic support.

Also see: 3 ways to make advising experiences more meaningful for disengaged students

Informal networks: At UTSA, many Latino students are also first-generation students, says Rhonda Gonzales, associate vice provost of strategic initiatives. One of the biggest challenges first-generation students face is finding peers and adults they can turn to for advice about college. To help give students an informal support network, UTSA created "familias," groups of 20 to 30 students and a first-gen faculty mentor who meet regularly to discuss their experiences.

Two ways to help first-generation students navigate your college's "hidden curriculum"

Nudging students to get involved on campus: Being highly engaged on campus is correlated with student success, so UTD has taken steps to nudge Latino students to be more involved in campus life. Efforts start with a summer bridge program in which participants are required to live on campus. UTD also offers mentorship programs and opportunities for current college students to provide campus tours and advice to K-12 students interested in college (Ayala, Dallas Morning News, 12/31) 

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