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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 3. “To Drop Out or Not to Drop Out?” Student Experiences after Program Acceptance


← 56 | 57 →·3·“TO DROP OUT OR NOT TO DROP OUT?”Student Experiences after Program Acceptance

In the last chapter, I examined the types of programs represented in this study and the ways in which students gain access (or not) to these programs. In this chapter, I address the ways in which the six students experienced each program. Importantly, my intention is not to evaluate the programs per se. Instead, I focus on the types of support each program offers and how the students experienced that support, and I conclude with a discussion of key programmatic components as well as implications for supporting the transition to college for underrepresented students. Specifically, in what follows, the data and analyses are organized into the following sections: It’s Not about the Grades, Personal Connections and Caring Mentors, and Finances. I then offer conclusions about the key program components and implications for rethinking success to close the chapter.

It’s Not about the Grades

Most Students [of Color], including Chicano students, leave campus not because of their grades. They leave campus because of…other reasons. People think they drop out because they do lousy in school. That’s not the case at all. And I think one of the reasons freshmen [have a hard time] is just the transition, you know? They transition from a neighborhood that is predominantly their own culture to a neighborhood that totally is different from what they ← 57 | 58 → are used to. That’s a huge...

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