Latina/o Educational Attainment: Individual Factors Related to the Success of Latina/o Community College Students
The purpose of this study was to understand how individual factors were related to measures of educational attainment for Latina/o community college students. Educational attainment in the context of the community college for this study was defined as persistence (e.g., still enrolled); completion of a certificate and associate's degree; or successful transfer to a four-year institution and bachelor's degree completion within six years. This study examined how a combination of pre-college and demographic characteristics, academic experiences, and environmental pull factors predicted the educational attainment outcomes of Latina/o community college students. The study was guided by Nora's Student Institution/Engagement (2003) model of student persistence. Using data from the Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study 2004-2009, three logistic regression analyses were conducted to predict the odds of (1) persistence, (2) certificate or associate degree completion, and (3) transfer and/or bachelor's degree completion. Findings from this study indicated that the primary language spoken in the home, citizenship status, socioeconomic status, degree expectations, academic integration, first-year GPA, enrollment intensity, co-enrollment, receipt of a federal student loan and the Pell Grant significantly predicted the odds of one or more success outcomes of Latina/o community college students. Results contribute to current research on Latina/o community college student outcomes because they identify factors that are still important, distinguishes some that are different from the general community college population, and identifies other considerations that were not identified in previous research on Latina/o community college students. Findings have implications for policy by reinforcing the importance of financial aid in promoting the educational attainment of Latina/os. Findings also have implications for practice by drawing attention to the need for community colleges to accurately assess the educational and career aspirations of their students and provide complimentary advising services and programs that will facilitate the advancement of those ambitions.