Survey: Latino college students’ career success starts on campus

Tailored support services for Latino students create more personal career satisfaction according to a new survey of 12 Hispanic Serving Institutions from Excelencia in Education and Gallup.

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Latino student success is increased at Hispanic Serving Institutions.
Latino student success begins with a strong support system at college. Image – Shutterstock

Strong, targeted, on-campus support systems and inclusive environments at Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) lead to more career success and satisfaction for Latino graduates, according to a new survey by Gallup and Excelencia in Education in partnership with the Strada Education Network released today. The survey shows how HSIs and all higher education can help accelerate success for Latinos through replication of these support programs and initiatives, the co-sponsors said.

Latino career outcomes are improved when they attend HSIs.
Image – Gallup/ Excelencia in Education

“This study clearly shows that by offering both academic and social support for Latino students and by creating more inclusive environments, proactive higher education institutions can equip Latino graduates with the skills, knowledge, and opportunity they need to succeed in the long-term,” said Excelencia in Education CEO Deborah Santiago. The organization helps promote Latino student success through data analysis that informs educational policy and practices.

“Wherever they are enrolled, but especially at Hispanic Serving Institutions, Latino students benefit long-term from rich experiential learning opportunities and strong relationships with faculty, staff and other mentors,” added Brandon Busteed, senior partner and global head at Gallup, the research and consulting firm.

Watch the livestream of the survey release below:

The study surveyed graduates of a group of twelve HSIs in part of the Excelencia in Action Network, a national network of post-secondary institutions committed to preparing Latino students with the skills, knowledge, and opportunities needed to succeed in the workforce and their communities. An HSI is any accredited, higher-education institute that grants a degree that has 25 percent or more of all enrolled full-time students who identify as Hispanic.

Twenty-six percent of the Excelencia network graduates surveyed strongly agreed that they had the “ideal job” for them. That’s compared to 22 percent of the general college-education population. Forty-one percent of network graduates said their job gives the chance to work at what interests them, compared to 37 percent for the general population.

“This suggests they are not just employed after college, but in jobs that are quality jobs with meaningful work,” said Busteed.

“The graduates from these institutions were more likely overall to think that the institutions prepare them well for workforce and life,” explained Santiago. “And that sounds trite, but it isn’t in this current context when there’s so much criticism of higher ed, what it is and isn’t doing, and how much it costs for students. To know that alumni that have been out in the workforce for a while believe it prepared them well — I think that’s an incredible story.”

Among the support services being offered are tutoring and work-study. “They’ll do things that leverage the support structure students come in with like language and family, things that traditionally we don’t think about institutions doing,” said Santiago. “For example, one of the campuses in the Excelencia network has orientation for parents and family. They know that the strongest support network for a student, especially the first gen, is their family. So if you can educate the family, and I say, family, not just parents because it could be grandparents or siblings, and they know what to expect, they can be your ally and help retain and graduate your student because they’re aware.”

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The survey reinforces the idea that experiential learning opportunities, such as internships, have a noticeable impact on career outcomes of Excelencia network graduates. Students who had internships or were involved in the extracurricular support systems tended to have better communication and collaboration skills. This, according to Gallup’s Busteed, helped improve their chances of finding a good job.

“One of the areas HSIs can improve upon is in the percentage of their graduates who have jobs or internships during college where they can apply what they are learning in the classroom. On this metric, they were slightly lower compared to college graduates nationally,” said Busteed. “And it’s a hugely important aspect linked to their long-term career success. Moving the needle on this will certainly continue to boost Latino outcomes as graduates.”

Excelencia’s Santiago said that there are lessons to be learned for all higher ed institutions, the first being they can’t just put together a program and hope a student finds its value. Schools need to be proactive about getting students involved and engaged. “Second, we are overt about the need to make sure the institution is linking their graduates to the workforce. So we recommend experiential learning, things like internships, hands-on curriculum development, and structure that’s critical to that.”

The third thing, according to Santiago, is that institutions must tell their stories better. “There are a lot of successful students of color and otherwise at these institutions. They’re not necessarily the CEO at the Fortune 500, but they are adding value to their communities. There’s a lot of economic and social mobility and these institutions need to tell their story of impact better.”

You can read the full survey here.

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