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Getting College Ready

Latin@ Student Experiences of Race, Access, and Belonging at Predominantly White Universities


Julie Minikel-Lacocque

Getting College Ready: Latin@ Student Experiences of Race, Access, and Belonging at Predominantly White Universities challenges the way we conceive of college access, retention, and success for underrepresented students writ large. Specifically, through presenting an in-depth, qualitative case study on six Latin@ students transitioning to a public, predominantly White university, it examines what the institution does, or doesn’t do, to meet the needs of these students. This book seamlessly combines the topics of college access and the transition to college for underrepresented students; it offers a comprehensive review of what we already know about underrepresented students in college and how they get there; it challenges some of this existing literature; and throughout, it weaves in the compelling voices and experiences of the study’s focal students and staff members tasked with supporting them. This thoughtful study demands that we reconsider the ways in which we understand college access, school success, college preparation, the tenuous relationship between religious fundamentalism and public education, and conceptions of race and racism. Indeed, this work calls into question what it means to be «college ready».
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When I left home for college on that August morning in 1991, I was ready. My parents, both college educated, sat quietly in front of me, navigating our trip through the picturesque midwestern landscape sprawled before us. The giddy excitement that pulsed through me was only somewhat tempered by the knowledge that within a matter of hours I would face an emotional goodbye to them. Mostly, I was ready. Ready to take on the next chapter of my life, this time-honored last stage on the road to becoming a full-fledged adult. I was ready to explore, to experiment, to “find myself.” I was confident in the preparation my suburban public education had provided me, and I was ready to take on something more challenging. I never once doubted my parents’ ability to pay my tuition, and I planned on looking for a part-time campus job in a few weeks. I was ready to leave my friends and family, all of whom were either college graduates or current students themselves. Significantly, I am also White. I embarked on this adventure knowing that my peers in college would be from similar backgrounds, not only educationally and socioeconomically but also racially. I was not afraid of standing out or being mistreated because of how I looked.

My small liberal arts college, importantly, was also ready for me. It boasted a long history of educating mostly middle- and upper-class Whites, and it was ← 1 | 2 → one of the few colleges...

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