The relatively recent rise of graduation rates among Latino students in the US has been received with much fanfare. It’s also the general consensus that minorities need to keep improving their graduation rate to raise the national average. However when I peel back the numbers these articles throw at me, I see Latino students who graduate from schools that will do anything for a higher graduation rate. I see Latino students who graduate without any career or college resources. I see Latino students who are told that the best they can hope for is a minimum wage job or community college. I want to see Latino students who graduate high school either enrolled in college or pursuing any number of careers or dreams. The following organizations and programs are essential for Latino/Hispanic students interested in pursuing higher education:
I have included these two heavy hitters in the same category because for Latino students the Gates Millennium Scholarship (GMS) is processed through Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF). Besides GMS, there many more large scholarships that HSF offers. After creating an account on their website, students automatically receive information and applications to other scholarships they qualify for. Furthermore, they invite successful Latino leaders to their award ceremonies to interact with the scholarship winners and send out email alerts of conferences and other events. They also host a Youth Leadership Institute for high school juniors every year to prepare them for the college application process.
HHF is an organization dedicated to Latino advancement, from emerging professionals to well established individuals. They also host a scholarship for high school seniors in certain regions of the United States. There are two levels of recognition: regional and national winners are chosen from regional. The scholarship also opens the door to future networking and professional opportunities that come with being part of the HHF community.
A few weeks back I wrote an article about the benefits of this scholarship. Even though it’s not directed specifically at Hispanic students, it can still be a good option for a student looking to fund four to five years of college. This scholarship focuses on resiliency, a valuable trait especially characteristic of low-income minority students in the US.
Many institutions, particularly liberal arts colleges, offer minority students all-expense paid visits to their campuses. These visits comprise in panels by admission and financial aid officers, tours of the universities, bonding with other participants and the room hosts, and fee waivers! Sometimes participating in a fly-in program can even increase a student’s chance of being accepted into a school. Many students feel discouraged when their dream schools don’t offer a fly-in program, however it’s wise to apply to all the schools that seem remotely interesting. Whether it’s the location or a quirky on campus tradition, there is no harm in giving a school a try. Moreover, it is a great networking opportunity with staff, college students, and fellow high school seniors.
This is another scholarship program that is not specific to Latinos but could be very valuable to low-income Hispanic students. Questbridge is partnered with many of the top-tier research universities and liberal arts colleges in the nation. They have a program for high school juniors to spend a few weeks in the summer at a university. Quest Scholars, as participants are called, are also invited to participate in college conferences and other informational and networking activities. Then, during fall high school seniors can apply to the National College Match in hopes of getting matched to an institution that will cover all expenses besides work-study and student contribution. Questbridge provides fee waivers, an on campus community, and many other opportunities.
I have highlighted these five programs but I also want to mention other valuable resources relevant to the admissions season: College Board Big Future, Cappex, FASFA, CSS Profile, HACER Ronald McDonald House Scholarship, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, The Posse Foundation, Ventures Scholars Program, and Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation.
As the number of Latino high school graduates rises, it is becoming more imperative for this information to reach these students early on in their high schools careers. I do realize this list is limited, especially for undocumented Hispanic students, as these programs often require US residency or citizenship. However, hopefully it is beneficial to at least some future high school graduates.