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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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Chapter 2. College Access Programs: Mapping the Terrain


← 36 | 37 → · 2 ·COLLEGE ACCESS PROGRAMSMapping the Terrain

In reality … going to college begins long before kindergarten; perhaps before conception. The economic situation of parents, their schooling history, the neighborhoods into which children are born and raised; all have powerful effects on children’s aspirations and preparation for schooling before they ever step inside a classroom. (Gándara & Contreras, 2009, p. 250)


Numerous college access and retention programs exist across the U.S. While there is great variation within the wide range of programs, all share the foundational goal of mitigating the effects of the uneven access to college highlighted in the epigraph above. Programs labelled “college access programs” are generally those programs that begin while a student is in middle or high school, are outside the school’s regular curriculum, and are designed to improve the dismal rates of college enrollment (and, in some cases, retention) among underrepresented students. These “access” programs may or may not continue once the student is enrolled in college. “College retention/support programs,” on the other hand, start once a student is enrolled ← 37 | 38 → in college. These programs provide various resources to underrepresented students while they are on campus with the hope of increasing retention for these students. Both types of programs may be involved in recruitment efforts as well.

College access programs in particular generally fall into two categories: student-centered and school-centered (Gándara, 2002). Student-centered programs represent the “vast majority” of college access programs, and,...

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