Wow, I wish I had known! How Social Capital Affects Hispanic Parents Dreams of Sending their Children to College



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Kansas State University. K-State Libraries


Despite an increase in the number of Hispanics immigrating to the United States since the 1990s, the rate pursuing higher education is significantly less than the White population. Research on the race/ethnic gap in college degrees tends to focus on societal barriers to explain this problem. Some scholars also find that the experiences Hispanic parents have in immigrating and acculturating may strongly influence how they guide their children. Through in-depth, semi-structured interviews, I examine how Hispanic immigrant parents make sense of their current and past work and educational experiences, and how these experiences affect their expectations and aspirations for their children's educational and occupational future. I find that the Hispanic parents in my sample tend to have high expectations for their children because they view the educational system in the United States as an improvement to the educational system of their country of birth. However, their own negative work and educational experiences within the United States and a desire to return to their home country instills pessimism in them that their children will experience the same barriers the parents faced. Thus, while first generation immigrants encourage their children to attain higher education, in many subtle ways they communicate to their children that a more realistic goal may be to pursue immediate employment after high school. In addition, immigrant families living in rural areas may lack access to the bridging capital resources of larger cities with more immigration that are essential for assisting immigrant youth in attending college.


Citation: Palacios, K. (2017). Wow, I wish I had known! How Social Capital Affects Hispanic Parents Dreams of Sending their Children to College. Unpublished manuscript, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS.
Kirmser Undergraduate Research Award - Individual Non-Freshman, honorable mention


Hispanic, Higher Education, Immigrants, Rural Communities, Expectations and Aspirations, Social Capital