Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Undocumented Students at the Higher Education Door: Investigating the Perspectives of Student Service Staff
by Cruz Santoyo, Maria Elena, Ed.D., California State University, Long Beach, 2019, 186; 13900913
Abstract (Summary)

While 94% of undocumented children and youth between the ages of 13 – 17 are enrolled in school, only 5-10% will go on to enroll in institutions of higher education upon high school completion, and few (1%) will reach college degree completion. In trying to understand the reasons undocumented students enroll in and complete college in low numbers, there has been a wealth of research on undocumented students and the barriers they face in college attainment. With much of this research focusing on who undocumented students are and the particular challenges they experience in accessing higher education, the intent of this study was to explore the views of a less studied but critically important group – the student service staff serving this student population in the primary doorways of college access.

The narratives of twenty-five counselors, advisors, and financial aid and enrollment specialists from seventeen California Community Colleges were explored in this qualitative study. Closely guided by Anthias’ (2012) notion that there are four sites, or more specifically, four social arenas through which inequality is produced, the four research questions of this study thus align with these arenas. Student service staff were asked to discuss (1) how they perceive undocumented immigrants and students are referred to in the media and within their institutions (representational arena), (2) the efficacy of policies and enrollment procedures applicable to undocumented students (organizational arena), (3) the socio-emotional state of undocumented students (experiential arena), and (4) the degree to which they perceived they (student service staff) are effectively serving and informing this student population (intersubjective arena).

Findings reveal that undocumented students continue to face inequities within California’s Community Colleges that hinder their enrollment and completion. Student service staff are not being provided with adequate training and support so as to effectively serve undocumented students, and there are shortcomings in policy implementation and messaging that further deter the success of this student population. Recommendations to address and improve these aforementioned concerns are presented and can be used by college leaders and student service staff to better serve the undocumented students on their campuses.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Symcox, Linda
Commitee: Perez Huber, Lindsay, Macias, Elena V
School: California State University, Long Beach
Department: Educational Leadership
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 81/4(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Higher education, Educational leadership, Community college education
Keywords: admissions and financial aid, California Community Colleges, higher education policies, student service staff perspectives, student service staff training, Undocumented students
Publication Number: 13900913
ISBN: 9781687952387
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