- Over the last few decades, Hispanic enrollment in postsecondary education has increased significantly. Despite increased access to higher education, there are still clear issues of educational equity when graduation and persistence rates are evaluated. While these alone are imperfect measures, they shed light on a burgeoning issue within the American higher education landscape. Of the extant research on Hispanic student persistence, much of it focuses on traditional predictors of success, such as socioeconomic status, parents’ education level, and pre-college preparation. These variables, while valuable, often focus on failure rather than success. Given the counseling profession’s commitment to social justice, supporting Hispanic student success and seeking to dismantle the deficit narratives often relied on in education, provide the framework for the current study.
This study utilizes an archival cross-sectional design to explore the predictive ability of two sets of variables with regard to Hispanic undergraduate persistence. The variables selected represent two separate yet related research arms. The first arm (Arm A) was designed to evaluate a set of strengths-based variables and examine those variables alongside students’ persistence. The first research question specifically states, “Do strengths-based factors have an influence on Hispanic undergraduate student graduation and persistence rates?” The variables explored within this arm include: (a) highest credential expected, (b) perceived likelihood of attaining a credential, (c) level of connectedness with their institution, and (d) gender. The second research arm (Arm B) explored a set of career-related variables and their relation to students’ persistence. The research question for this second arm asks, “Do career-oriented factors impact Hispanic undergraduate persistence rates?” The variables explored within this arm include: (a) employment-related to future work, (b) enrollment in a career and technical education (CTE) program, (c) whether students changed their major, and (d) gender. The study utilized the Beginning Postsecondary Students Study (BPS: 12/14), collected by the National Center for Education Statistics, to gain a nationally representative sample of Hispanic-identifying undergraduate students. A logistic regression was run for each respective set of variables and then analyzed.
For the research question associated with Arm A, both students’ highest credential expected and perceived likelihood of ever attaining a credential were found to be significant predictors of students’ three-year persistence. Both gender and belongingness did not yield significant results. For the research question associated with Arm B, both employment in a field related to future work and enrollment in a CTE program were found to be significant predictors of students’ three-year persistence. However, both gender and whether students changed their major did not yield significant results. In evaluating the findings collectively, the results suggest there are a few clear, actionable steps that those interested in supporting Hispanic undergraduate success can take. Implications for practice suggest that early emphasis on career development, as well as creating meaningful relationships between career and academic work, offer promise. Similarly, finding ways to emphasize students’ efficacy, both academic and career, may offer promise in supporting the development of Hispanic scholars. Future research could consider exploring more advanced modeling to create a clearer picture of how to best scaffold and support Hispanic student achievement at the undergraduate level and beyond.