Preparing Latino Students for College and for Life
Preparing Latino Students for College and for LifeMaria Eugenia Alcón-Heraux, Director, Communications
“The College Board considers the development and growth of the Latino community one of the most strategic and challenging opportunities we face in the coming century,” said College Board President and CEO David Coleman during the opening plenary of the 10th annual Prepárate conference.
The College Board is working to prepare Latino students for success in a number of ways, explained Coleman — by redesigning the SAT and removing the obscure “SAT words” that many Latino students struggled with on the old test; by investing in access to AP courses through the AP All In campaign; and by ensuring that all Latino students get free, world-class SAT preparation through the College Board’s partnership with Khan Academy. “We now have equal number of Latinos participating in Khan Academy as those participating in the SAT,” he announced.
An area for improvement, he continued, is to ensure Latino students realize their potential. College Board research shows that 57% of Latino students who have potential to succeed in AP coursework do not participate in at least one matched AP exam.
“It is a scandal that there are so many Latino students across this country who are ready for academic opportunities who then betray themselves by not taking them,” he said. And unfortunately, that trend continues in college — the number of Latinos who enroll in college is much lower than the number who have the potential to succeed in college.
Coleman pointed out that religious communities and schools are key to addressing these issues. “If we are going to speak seriously about moving the Latino community, engaging with families, and getting more students to apply broadly to college,” he told the audience, “how can we ignore the remarkable and central force the religious community has in this conversation?”
Coleman invited Dr. Carlos Campo, president of Ashland University in Ohio and chair of the Alliance for Hispanic Education for the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), to continue this conversation with him during the first Prepárate plenary session, “Conversations about Reverence and Excellence: Faith and Opportunity.”
As the son of a Cuban bandleader and a singer from the Clooney Sister Singers (yes, George Clooney is his cousin!), Dr. Campo admitted he was an unlikely candidate to become president of a university. His parents did not graduate from high school, but they made him believe education was the key to his future.
“My parents had me look up. They made me believe I could do it, that all things were possible,” said Dr. Campo.
He struggled with his Latino identity growing up; not until he started teaching at a community college did he see saw the power of being an educator and the influence he could have on Latino students.
“I had this feeling that ellos son sus hijos, these are your children — that was a shift for me,” said Dr. Campo about his calling. “These children, they were my neighbor and I had this duty to them and to God. [God] said you will serve me through them, and express your love for me through your love for them.”
One of the challenges in higher education, Dr. Campo went on to explain during his conversation with Coleman, is that Latino faculty members willfully do not enter into their institution’s administrations because they want to stay connected to students. The last thing Dr. Campo wanted was to go what he called “the dark side” and become an administrator, but he soon realized that by becoming a college president he would have more opportunities to enact positive change for his Latino students.
Lastly, Dr. Campo wanted to send a message to educators in the audience about their expectations of Latino students.
“I think too often we compromise and say, ‘This is good enough.’ Truly that has been the story of the Latino community for too long in this country,” he explained. “We have to be the ones to say no, never settle.”
"There is nothing that feels better than preparing students for college and for life,” Dr. Campo closed.