As we begin a new academic year, the number of Latino students on college and university campuses across our nation continues to grow. Most of these students and their professors recognize a baccalaureate degree as one of the surest paths toward a successful career. Yet too many academic institutions are still learning about Latino students, many of whom are from low-income and first-generation college backgrounds. How can we ensure their continued success?

FOSTERING SUCCESS: For many Latino students, the path to success has unnecessary road blocks. With proper mentoring and a push, these students are more likely to succeed without feeling isolated.

Setting goals

It’s never too early to start preparing for college, and studies show that students benefit from encouragement from their high school counselors. There is an especially positive impact on post-secondary success rates among Latino and other underrepresented students who receive individualized college counseling.

“Research shows that mentoring fosters success for Latino and first-generation college students who often feel like outsiders.”

Some programs are kicking this up a notch by setting high school benchmarks that guarantee college acceptance to state universities. This guarantee sets a clear incentive early on for students to make good grades and score well on entrance exams. Programs like this also ensure that high school math and English curricula are rigorous enough to prepare students for college-level courses.

Building bonds

Research shows that mentoring fosters success for Latino and first-generation college students who often feel like outsiders. Support from a mentor strengthens a sense of belonging, making students more likely to stay and finish their degree. By setting up first-generation, low-income, or underrepresented minority students with graduate student and faculty mentors, we greatly increase their opportunities for post-secondary academic success.

Working together we will build the momentum to ensure America’s brightest future enriched with the talents, skills and contributions of greater numbers of Latino college graduates.