Research has shown that men of color and most importantly Latino males are considerably behind Latino females in regard to their access to college and graduation rates (Saenz & Pojman, 2011). Statistics by The National Centre for Education from 2010 show that for every five degrees earned by Hispanics, females produce more than three of them. (Elgin Community College, 2010) Reports that although Latino students have the lowest likelihood of transferring to other colleges compared to other ethnic groups, it has been shown that Latino male students have the lowest persistence rates.
This essay seeks to explore the most common obstacles that cause stress in Latino male college students which result in their low graduation rates. Latino males face a lot of pressure in their attempt to get a university education. And most of the time, they are overwhelmed by these challenges. Some of these obstacles include financial difficulties, lack of support, lack of motivation, unpreparedness for college and difficulties that are specific to Hispanic groups. Looking at all these hindrances, the most common denominator in all of them is that they result in stress. Concerns related to this challenge weigh heavily on Latino male students. By looking at the various causes of pressure faced by this group of students, this essay will seek to answer the question; what are some of the obstacles that cause stress in Latino male college students?
Cause of Stress in Latino Male College Students
One of the causes of stress that hinder Latino male students from successfully going through college is the need and financial pressure to contribute to the well-being of their families in an economic sense. (Bread for the World, 2018) State in their fact sheet that Latinos are racially and culturally diverse and their legal status vary in the US. But generally, they are most likely to lack regular and reliable access to food and live in poverty. They are also most likely to be paid low wages and endure poor working conditions to meet their daily needs.
I met Mateo at a local mechanic’s shop last year. He was a 20-year-old Latina male asked to drive me to school while my car was at the shop. The journey took us 30 minutes due to the traffic, and we picked up a conversation. He asked if I was a student and I said yes. Mateo told me he was a college dropout and had managed to be in college for only one year. He said that although he had grown up just five miles from his college, he would not bear the thought of the struggles his family was going through to keep him in college. Mateo said that the stress was just too much and had to leave college. He also shared his legal struggles with me and how he was working hard to provide food for his family and keep his younger brother in school. He did not want his brother to meet the same fate as his. As I went through my classes that day one question that Mateo had asked me still lingered in my head; Is it hard for you to go through college? I still think about Mateo’s concerns at times. I wonder if he will ever get the opportunity to pick up from where he left. But the reality is that there are so many other young Latino males like Mateo out there, struggling to make ends meet at the expense of a college education.
Just like any other Latino male, Mateo comes from a working-class background. The earnestness he and his counterparts have in joining the labor force is greater than the need to enjoy the long-term gains of getting a degree. Many Latino Families expect that older kids support the family financially. This expectation weighs in on the male children who would love to get a college education. It is hard for the kids to feel that they are taking away from the family what goes to their school fees. The children’s desire to support their families is what makes them drop out of college (White, 2012).
Another cause of stress for Latino male college students is the financial burden of getting aid and paying for their college. According to (IHEP, Excellencies in Education & USA Funds, 2014), financial needs of college students have become a topic today, but very little information about raising college funds and aid is made available to the first growing Latina population. Most Latino male students are financially dependent on their parents, work while enrolled in college, are most likely first-generation students and tend to go to colleges that have low tuition and fees. Also, some of the Latino male students have families of their own, and some even have children. One other thing that is clear is that both the independent and dependent Latino male students have family incomes that are relatively low
It is evident that financial constraints and payment of college fees has emerged as one of the stress factors affecting Latino male students. One Latino male in our college admitted to me that they were not educated in any way back in high school about college the available college aid. That is the main reason why most of his peers did not even think about going to college. Also, when financial assistance is made available to them, they still face some barriers in other economic forms. For instance, confounding problems related to aid awards and how to use the finds. There was once an incident told of on campus where a tutor confronted a Latino male who was a student receiving financial aid and accused him of wasting money by not attending some of his classes, and he responded that the money was not actually his, so it did not matter. The student who was retelling this story admitted that some of his peers just wanted to use the aid for their personal use. This incident suggests that problems related to accessing financial aid and getting an understanding of the value of this aid are hitches that need direct address among Latino male students.
Another major stress stimulant among the Latino male students is the illegal immigrant condition of these students. Research has shown that college students that are undocumented have higher levels of anxiety than the other students. This anxiety is most likely as a result of the unique challenges they face due to their legal status (Mulhern, 2015). Some concerns weigh heavily on these undocumented students ranging from finances, fear of deportation to having a sense of isolation. Undocumented students have always been marginalized and neglected in Colleges leading to the under-realization of their potential.
Although the Pew Research Centre estimates that over 200,000 undocumented immigrants learn in various colleges in the United States, there is a very high likelihood that college administrators have no idea concerning the challenges undocumented Latino male students go through due to lack of knowledge about their existence. The lack of awareness for problems faced by Latinos could not be their fault anyway, because undocumented students for obvious reasons are a difficult group to reach. Therefore, collages may be forced to assume they do not have any undocumented students. This situation makes it more stressful for Latino male students since they cannot find a way to have their problems solved by their respective colleges. Even with the implementation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which protects qualified youth from deportation by giving them a legal reprieve, it is still not easy for the Latino male students. For them, it means getting quality housing, easy access to internship opportunities and getting a driver’s license but coming out could spell trouble for their parents and older siblings who still hold the illegal status.
Apart from legal status, other particular issues cause stress to Latino male students in their academic journey. These are unique combinations are only specific to Latino Male students. Though quantitative data show that Latino males are more successful academically compared to African American males, qualitative data show that they struggle as a population that is distinct and have unique challenges that are related to language and access to college (Labium, 2016). Communication has been proven to be their most significant barrier to achieving a college degree. Due to their poor use of English as a second language, they express a lot of fear for rejection, lack self-confidence and have a fear of success. Most young males feel more comfortable being out of college rather than risk embarrassing themselves.
Furthermore, this group of students are also more likely to experience racism in college. Which negatively impacts their college social lives and academic achievements. They are also adversely affected by “ability grouping” (Portland State University, 2010). Ability grouping is categorizing of students in different groups depending on their perceived ability. There are even cases where Latinos, in general, are put in a track separate from the mainstream curriculum. The report from Portland state university also suggests that Latino male students are at risk of facing more resistance and receiving discouraging advice from their tutors and counsellors, which only adds to the already existing stress due to segregation, isolation and the feeling of disconnectedness.
Lastly, the final stress causing factor that this essay will discuss is stereotyping. Latino male students are always seen to belong to a gang regardless of not having actual gang connections or affiliations (Beers & Griffith, 2014). There is an incident a friend told me about where a Male Latino student tried to blend with his peers by joining the basketball team. Even with this attempt, to the assistant coach, every Latino male are most likely gang members. It is common for basketball players to wear baseball caps, big shirts, and pants, for the coach if you were not Latino, it was okay. Every time this young man could dress like his teammates, it would result in serious frisking by the assistant coach. This kind of discrimination leads to a lack of ownership by the Latino males of the college process, and they create some distance between them and the school. Also, the treatment Latino males get from their peers determines their understanding of racial identity. As a result, they are forced to retreat to their own, creating ethnic groups within the college.
It goes without doubt that all these challenges faced by Latino male students have various effects on their graduation rates and academic success. Their lack of preparedness to join college because they did not get the right guidance makes their college journey very stressful. In most cases, they lack proper information on what to study, have test anxiety, always afraid of the unknown and general anxiety towards their classmates. Stress from family adds to their burden. Also, the pressure results in a lack of self-motivation and lack of focus.
In many cases, it is the parents who want a better life for their children. Therefore, the Latino male college students do not see the importance of a college degree or investing in education. Latino male students also lack quality engagements with their instructors which at times raises questions concerning the teaching effectiveness and approach used by tutors in addressing this kind of group
For a very long time, the sobering and persistent data trends point to a gender disparity in the attainment of education for Latino males. It is vital to find ways that will ensure Latino male students fell embraced in their uniqueness and relevancy. Especially by colleges that have Latino males enrolled. The demographic and economic realities of our great nation demand for a thorough and urgent examination of the challenges facing Latino male students. Although the Latino community is still young, it is growing very fast. It is sad that the demographic reality of the Latino male population is not the same as what is reflected in the college system.
Analysis and Conclusion
One of the main challenges faced by the American higher education system in this century is how to improve the enrolment, retention and graduation rates of Latino college student population. Presently, the representation of Latino male students in higher education levels is not proportional to their representation in the entire US population (Gonzales, 2006). From the literature cited earlier, I reason that Latino male students experience stress because they have a negative attitude towards the university environment, hence the low persistence attitudes. Also, even after controlling general anxiety caused by adverse life events, minority-related importance remains the primary cause of physiological depression among Latino male students (Wei, Ku & Liao, 2011).
Latino college students are expected to experience a culture adjustment shock when they attend college. As a result, acculturative stress and other various mental health symptoms like symptoms of depression may be visible. Research indicates that more variance in depression symptoms are explained in the Latino male at 27.9% compared to females at 10.9% (Castillo et al., 2015). This statistic suggests that for male Latinos, the acquisition of US culture, culture-heritage retention, and characteristics of acculturative stress and strongly related to depression for male Latinos than females.
The Identity of Latino male students have a significant effect on their well-being and academic success. These identities include gender, racial and ethnic and educational and have an impact on their psychological stress and how they cope and manage stress. Latino males go through identity development where they negotiate their gender identities and priorities their academic requirements (Ramirez, 2017). To be able to get a college degree, Latino male students are required to adjust their family gender roles expectations and shift their ethnic masculinity expectations to take on their academic identity. By doing this, they can cope with stress.
The National Centre for Education Statistics shows a worrying trend among Latino Male students. With fewer Latino males getting a college degree, it indicates that Latino males are facing a lot of challenges in realizing a critical education milestone, and most of these challenges often go unexamined by policymakers and researchers. The question is, if this gap continues to increase at a frighteningly persistent rate, what long-term impact do we expect this to have the variability of communities and the economy in general?
This essay proves that first generation and second generation Latino male students struggle with stress during their college studies. And although many have learned to conquer it, many needs help. Stress can lead to depression, especially if it goes untreated for a long time. Depression has become a common occurrence because in many cases, a lot of people are unaware of its presence (GUTIÉRREZ, 2015). School administrators and policymakers need to put in place stress management programs to help Latino male students cope with stress associated with finances, family, immigration and self-esteem. There is a need for social support, friends, clubs a connection and social network programmed to support this student. Some of these male students have families, therefore, need assistance in balancing work, childcare, family and going to college.
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