Mature man using laptop to study at home

Meeting The Education Needs of Hispanic Adults

There’s a contradiction in the movement for equity in higher education. Surveys show that Hispanics are among the groups that most value a college education, and most want to go to college. But they also report that they are the least sure how to access a college education – how to find the right school, enroll, and pay for it. 

That’s according to survey data compiled by the Chronicle of Higher Education, which notes that there are two primary reasons many Hispanic respondents struggle to attend college despite valuing it so highly.

The first is affordability. The Chronicle writes: “About 76 percent of Hispanic respondents who had never taken college courses said that affordability was a reason. About 62 percent of white respondents with no college cited the same reason.”

The other is an “information gap”: “Parents and would-be students may not know how they can afford a college education – what resources, like local and state scholarships, and systems, like federal student loans, are available.”

Raul Sarabia, Calbright’s regional outreach coordinator, has attended numerous events focused on college outreach to Hispanic populations, and says he sees these exact issues play out.  

“There is a lot of interest and buzz around attending college for the Latino/Hispanic community, but affordability, and minimal access to higher ed information (college enrollment process, ways to pay for college, etc.) are the biggest barriers,” he said. 

But if it’s hard for Hispanic high school age kids who want to go to college, Sarabia says it’s even harder for adults.

“Even if not everyone knows about them, programs at the federal level to support higher education efforts in K-12 such as TRIO and GEAR-UP exist. But there isn’t anything for adults who want to further their education,” Sarabia said.  “They are often a forgotten population.”

That’s why it’s so important for Calbright to show up to events focused on offering information about college to these populations. Sarabia has represented Calbright at events like Univision Feria de Educación and the Latino College Expo since 2020, and Univision Community Health/Wellness Fair and Univision Back to School Fair since 2022. “We need to bring the college to the community, rather than making them come to us,” he said.

He also sees Calbright’s unique education model as filling some of the accessibility gap for working adults. 

“Calbright is free to Californians, and we’re online, so there are no costs to worry about, no transportation costs or things like that. If students don’t have the computers or internet access they need, we’ll even provide that at no cost, so we make it affordable,” Sarabia said. “Because all our classes are flexibly paced, adults can take them around their job schedules and family obligations, which for many people is a total necessity. And all our programs are practical, with a projected employment growth. We’re a new kind of college, so a lot of people don’t know anything like this is possible, and it makes a real difference when they learn about it.”

That’s one of the reasons why Calbright’s student body is over 80% students of color, with students of Latino backgrounds forming one of the largest populations, at over 34%. It’s not just that we’re doing the outreach, it’s that our programs meet a need.

Related Blogs

In California, there are over 6 million adults who are un-or-underemployed and feel stuck. We...

Recently America has been debating the value of a college degree, asking “Is it worth...

According to the most recent statistics, women outnumber men as college students by 2-to-1. The...

Ready to get rolling?