Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Life without papers: Undocumented students negotiating higher education
by Munsch, Patricia, Ph.D., New York University, 2011, 275; 3454484
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this study was to understand the experiences of undocumented Latino students' in a suburban community college. The intention was to obtain insight into the barriers undocumented students confront throughout their college experience; it also sought to realize the goals and aspirations of undocumented students and their feelings towards the institution. The study utilized the conceptual grounding of membership, trust and social capital to frame the content of the research. The current body of research regarding undocumented students is limited (Dozier, 2001; Flores, 2003; Lopez, 2010; Perez, 2009). This study added to the body of knowledge by learning how undocumented students feel about their college experience, why they chose to attend college, and their hopes and aspirations for the future.

Through a qualitative approach, interviews were utilized to obtain data regarding the students' thoughts and feelings. Through the use of a three-interview process the students developed a sense of trust while engaging in the research questions (Seidman, 2006). The data was analyzed through a process that included open coding, axial coding, and thematic analysis.

The results suggested that undocumented students face a series of barriers in higher education including; learning about their college options, applying to college, understanding tuition differentials, paying for college, participating in all aspects of college life, and obtaining pre-professional workplace experience. They also discussed barriers they felt were in place in their daily lives including; inability to obtain a drivers license, limited access to travel, inability to acquire a credit card, and inability to secure stable work. The students had complex feelings regarding their relationship with their institution and while they cited support from faculty as a positive experience, they also described hostile experiences on campus and lack of college choice that led to a sense of distrust. Finally, those students who relied on a network of peers, faculty, and administrators demonstrated higher levels of knowledge regarding access to programs and services. Overall, the students hoped to have the ability to change their legal status', they planned on remaining in the United States and had aspirations of joining the professional workforce.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Stage, Frances
Commitee: Stulberg, Lisa, Teranishi, Robert
School: New York University
Department: Administration, Leadership, and Technology
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 72/08, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Community college education, Hispanic American studies, Higher education
Keywords: Community college, Higher education, Immigration, Latina/o, Undocumented students
Publication Number: 3454484
ISBN: 978-1-124-64036-5
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