Readiness for college: A case study of three Hispanic immigrant students who overcame the odds

Holly Kay Fields, University of Texas at El Paso


This study is about Hispanic, immigrant, low-income students who have graduated from high school college ready and the contexts from which they achieved such success. Few studies exist relative to immigrant, Hispanic student college readiness. This research hopes to provide insight into how institutional, peer and family culture helped to produce the success of the three students in this study. The purpose of the study is to provide a deeper understanding of the ways in which immigrant, low-income, Hispanic students and the modern contexts of schools interact to produce distinct life experiences for the participating graduates. This study aims to demonstrate what it means to immigrate to the United States as a child or young adolescent, enroll in public school and adapt to a new culture all in pursuit of obtaining a high school diploma with the ambitions to graduate college ready and ultimately, receive a college degree. The theoretical framework applied in this study is based on Resiliency Theory. The literature review includes a thorough definition of college readiness, those factors that have contributed to a lack of college readiness among today's high school graduates, and the historical inequalities and subtractive schooling practices related to the demographics of such students. Additionally, the literature review details those institutional factors, most notably, lawsuits and legislation that were related to the inequalities of minority and low-income students. Students living in poverty are discussed as a home factor. This home factor combined with the institutional factors helps to form a convergence that is seasoned for new research. This convergence then lends to a review of resiliency and resiliency theory from the perspective of student development and of family and organizational environment. This ethnographic research allowed the researcher to participate in the field with the recent graduates in order that a thick description and an insider account can be obtained from the experiences of the participants. Finally, domain structures or critical themes were constructed based on the categorization of the data collected through participant interviews, teacher, counselor or administrator interviews, parent interviews, and artifact collections.

Subject Area

Social research|Multicultural Education|School administration|Hispanic American studies

Recommended Citation

Fields, Holly Kay, "Readiness for college: A case study of three Hispanic immigrant students who overcame the odds" (2012). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI3552243.