Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Capitalizing baccalaureate degree attainment: Revealing the path of the Latina/o scholar
by Arellano, Lucy, Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles, 2011, 233; 3497383
Abstract (Summary)

Educational attainment is increasingly necessary for individual mobility and national economic development at the same time that the racial and ethnic makeup of the population continues to diversify, signaling a need to improve degree attainments across racial/ethnic groups. Latinos are the largest minority group in the country and the group with the largest expected growth. Nearly one out of every three individuals living in the United States will be of Latino descent by 2050. While the raw numbers of Latina/os entering postsecondary institutions may increase, the proportion completing college (compared to other demographic groups) has not kept pace with population increases.

This study explored the pre-college student characteristics and institutional environments through a capital theoretical perspective (Bourdieu, 1986) that foster degree attainment measured after six years of initial enrollment for Latinas/os. The national, longitudinal study employed hierarchical generalized linear modeling (HGLM) to examine the impact of differing institutional contexts while accounting for individual characteristics. The Freshman Survey and National Student Clearinghouse data at the Higher Education Research Institute provided a cohort of 15,745 Latina/o students longitudinally at 459 institutions to examine completion from the same institution. The large scale of the study allowed for disaggregated analyses across three ethnic groups (7,852 Mexican American/Chicanos, 2,601 Puerto Ricans, and 6,059 Other Latinos).

High school GPA and the number of college applications submitted are key factors at the student-level that positively predict Latina/o six year degree attainment. Concerns about financing college have an adverse effect on completion. Results further illustrate that campus context matters. The institutional graduation rate and compositional diversity positively influence graduation. Disaggregating by Latino subgroups is essential when considering the experiences of Latino students, as results revealed distinct predictors. The theoretical perspective facilitated the examination of forms of capital at both the student and institutional levels while providing a lens to view the reproduction of inequality embedded within the higher education system. Findings suggest the importance of preparing Latinas/os for the college choice process. Policymakers need to address financial concerns that prove to have detrimental results on degree attainment. Further implications for research, policy, and practice are discussed.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hurtado, Sylvia
School: University of California, Los Angeles
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 73/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Hispanic American studies, Higher education
Keywords: Baccalaureate, Capital, Degree attainment, Latina/o, Mexican-American/Chicano, Persistence, Puerto Rican, Retention
Publication Number: 3497383
ISBN: 978-1-267-18314-9
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