Experiences of Latino Community College Students in Overcoming Barriers to Persist

  • Tamara Wilkerson Dias
Keywords: community college, higher education, Latino, minority, persistence


While the number of Latino students taking advantage of higher education opportunities has steadily increased, the completion of degree programs does not mirror this increase (Radford, Berkner, Wheeless, & Shepard, 2010). Prior research has focused on the barriers faced by Latino college students (Garza, 2011; Hernandez, 2002; Radovic, 2012). However, there is limited research on the journeys of Latino community college students and the strategies they use to achieve success. This study utilized Padilla’s (1999) Model for Student Success to explore the barriers faced by Latino students at a community college and the strategies used by students to overcome them. Twelve students identified eleven barriers in the categories of personal, financial, coursework, learning, institutional, and student support. These students used experiential, institutional, knowledge about study skills, procedural, relational, and motivational knowledge to address their barriers. They also took strategic, pragmatic, persuasive, and supportive actions. Students emphasized the importance of building relationships with peers and staff and time management skills to balance their demanding work and school schedules. Based on the findings of this qualitative study, several recommendations were made including the expansion of peer tutoring programs, hiring additional translators to support students who are learning English, and the need for stronger relationships between community colleges and local high schools.


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Author Biography

Tamara Wilkerson Dias

TAMARA WILKERSON DIAS, EdD, is the Executive Director of African American Teaching Fellows, and a graduate of the Community College Leadership Doctoral Program at Morgan State University. Her major research interests lie in student success and retention, students of color in higher education, and community colleges. Email: tamarawdias@gmail.com