The pursuit of higher education for Hispanic learners is a daunting challenge. For many, it is too difficult to fathom earning an education to even try. There are many reasons why Hispanics struggle in their desire to become educated. They may have had poor experiences as younger students; they may have language struggles, lack of support from family and friends, and no knowledge of opportunities.
Many Hispanics desire higher education. In fact, 81 percent of Hispanics aspire to higher education, and feel they would get respect from others if they were able to obtain college degrees (Wadsworth & Remaley, 2007). If this is the case, why do so many not pursue education?
Perhaps needs of Hispanics are not being met. In the education of younger Hispanic students, a large amount (43 percent) of parents of these students are dissatisfied with the education their children are receiving. They see that the schools are unsafe, superintendents do nothing to improve their schools, and test scores continue to be very low. Only eight states can boast improvement over the last 15 years in boosting the percentage of minority students who score at or above proficient on standardized tests (Wadsworth & Remaley, 2007). Dropout rates are dismal, and this may not bode well for faith in the educational systems in this country, and may discourage many Hispanics from pursuing higher education.
Language barriers are another issue that many Hispanics face. Hispanics may have varying levels of education in their native countries, some may even have some college education, but they may struggle in the United States. This could be due to the language barrier, and learning linguistics in another language (Buttaro, 2001). Other Hispanics may struggle because they are not only learning a second language, but they are also becoming literate at the same time. This is a challenge many may not want to face (Buttaro, 2001). Hispanics with education in other countries may not have had one equivalent to the expectations of the United States, and may not be willing to start over. On a positive note, when Hispanics do participate in higher education, it helps them culturally, linguistically, and educationally (Buttaro, 2001).
Hispanics tend to have low participation in pursuits of education, be it at work, by participating in trainings, or in non-work related learning, such as college coursework (Creighton & Hudson, 2001). Since many Hispanics have to work harder to get themselves to the same level as their non-Hispanic counterparts, they might get discouraged and give up. The path to higher education for many Hispanics includes stops in various adult education activities, such as adult basic education and English as a Second Language courses, all before they even attempt higher education (Creighton & Hudson, 2001).
It seems to be a conundrum. Adults with more education tend to pursue more education (Creighton & Hudson, 2001). So it must start when Hispanics are younger. Patterns must be broken at a young age. Changes could happen when the students are younger, by changing the school systems, and the perceptions of the Hispanic parents, perhaps by getting them more involved. If the superintendents were also involved in making schools safer, and helping to make schools better for minority students, it would create a better path for Hispanics to continue on to gain education as adults.
Something else that is very important for Hispanics, and anyone else pursuing a dream of higher education is support. If there is no form of a support system, the student or potential student may not be very successful (Rivera, 2007). Students can find this support from their family, friends, or even an adult education coordinator. According to Rivera, (2007), adults who are not educated may suffer from depression and feel poorly about themselves, but may not see a way out. If there are more educational opportunities for Hispanics, and more knowledge of these opportunities, everyone can benefit.
So what is the impact on adult education? Since many adult education programs are publicly funded, and are controlled by voters and taxpayers, and increased awareness will be needed. It is not just about getting more Hispanic students enrolled in higher education. It is about getting them prepared for higher education by starting when they are young, working on the school systems for children and teenagers first. Next, programs for English as a Second Language and adult basic education could be increased and made better, so that we can prepare the learners for what they will expect in the future as they pursue their education.