Colleges in Massachusetts increase Latino student enrollment

June 12, 2012

NBC Latino

wheelock graduationHow does a college increase its Latino student enrollment by about 10 percent in six years? Wheelock College, in Boston, Massachusetts, has shown much success in increasing Latino student numbers. Wheelock Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer Dr. Adrian Haugabrook says their approach is based on common sense - as well as a sense that it is the right thing to do.

"What people need to understand and embrace is that some states such as ours are seeing a decline in the college-age population, but the fastest-growing demographic group is Latino students," says the educator.

Hispanic students, however, might be the first in their family to go to college, or have little or no access to high-quality college planning and advising, according to Haugabrook. So Wheelock College goes to area schools to find future students, and more importantly, to help make young Latinos college bound students.

"We have a program in an elementary school, for example, where our college students mentor fourth and fifth grade boys on the importance of going to college and the steps needed to get there," Haugabrook explains. Studies show many minority children fall behind during the "middle school slide" and then are not prepared for high school, thus limiting their chances to be prepared for college.

Wheelock also has created partnerships with local middle schools and high schools. The Eagle Wheelock Leadership Academy, for example, teaches teens about the importance of civic engagement and leadership - and the teens' mentors are minority college students themselves.

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