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Study Shows Latino College-Bound Students the Tech Savviest Among Peers but Missing Parental Help

LatinaLista — If a random survey was to be conducted on Anywhere Street, USA, and people were asked to say the first word that pops into their minds when they hear the word “hispanic,” chances are they would say things like: illegal immigration, gangs, protest marches, big families, beans, school dropouts, tequila, etc.

It’s a good bet that no one would say technology or the internet.

Yet, as Latina Lista reported earlier this month on how young Latinos are using the internet in greater numbers than any other ethnicity, technology and the internet are far from being oxymorons when used to describe today’s Latinos.

Latino students at Texas’ Sam Houston State University

In a new study released today titled Hispanic Students and the Web: The E-Expectations of College-Bound Hispanic High School Students, some interesting discoveries were made regarding Latino high school students.

Hispanic students were far more likely, in fact twice as likely as white students, to download a podcast or a videocast — illustrating how they not just embrace technology but use it.

Those young Latinos who are college-bound understand the role the internet also plays in researching colleges too. The study showed that 57 percent of Hispanic students say they like to participate in online chats at college web sites, whereas only 48 percent of white students have the same interest. Fifty-four percent of Hispanic students would download a college web site video podcast versus 44 percent of white students.

And when it comes to cell telephones:

White students showed a higher rate of cell phone ownership, with 71 percent having their own phones versus 60 percent of Hispanic students. However, Hispanic students were more open to taking calls from college
representatives (66 percent compared to 60 percent of white students)and far more open to receiving text messages (61 percent compared to 46 percent of white students).

So, by the looks of this study, Latino college-bound students should be way ahead of their peers when it comes to researching and applying to colleges —

BUT that’s not the case.

There is one detail that is holding Latino students back in a big way.

The largest behavioral gap between Hispanic students and white students appears to be the amount of parental support with college research. Just 48 percent of Hispanic students said that their parents are helping with “some of the research and paperwork,” compared to 65 percent of white students. Half of all Hispanic students said they were doing all the college research and paperwork on their own, compared to 30 percent of white students.

Any of us who come from a Hispanic background knows that this discovery is nada nuevo. Whether it was because of a language barrier or the fact that our own parents never attended college and didn’t know how to go about helping us, it was not unusual to do the research and applying on our own.

And that seems to be one of the keys in just how far some get in realizing their dreams.

Because Latino students are already so tech-savvy, the study targeted colleges with suggestions on how they can better help Latino students overcome the challenges of applying for financial aid to attend college.

Colleges were told that to better help Latino students and make the experience more one-on-one, contact and information should be shared via text messaging and other electronic communication styles Latinos already embrace.

But it doesn’t erase the fact that the parents are not as involved as they should be.

And it could be the children’s fault.

Pressed for time, impatient that their parents don’t “get it” quick enough, students don’t want to hassle having to explain everything when it’s easier just to do it, and some parents are more than willing to allow that.

Yet, times are changing and no matter how much new technology is involved – it can’t replace the fact that when parents are involved, children feel like they and their success in the future really matter.

It’s not enough to just provide one night of financial aid information and college applications for parents and students. Unlike others, it’s not just the Latino students who need their hands held during the whole process but the whole family.

The hope being that if it’s done for the first child, then parents can learn and repeat it with the other children and teach their comadres and copadres to do the same for their children, and so on.

By 2014, it is reported by the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute, that Hispanic students will account for 47 percent of all high school minority students.

That’s a lot of students and untapped talent that need guidance and nurturing to achieve their potential —

And as the old saying goes, it all starts in the home.

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