“Chain Enrollment” and College “Enclaves”: Benefits and Drawbacks for Latino College Students (WP-04-01)
Ann E. Person and James E. Rosenbaum
While Latino college enrollments have risen in recent decades, degree completion continues to lag. This study uses interviews with 33 students (including 17 Latino/as), as well as a survey of nearly 4,400 students at 14 two-year colleges in a major metropolitan area to examine the factors influencing Latino college enrollment and retention. Person and Rosenbaum employ theoretical frameworks from studies on immigrant communities to analyze the effects of “chain enrollment” and Latino student “enclaves” at some colleges. They find that social networks help Latino students to enroll in college and support them during their studies. At the same time, however, students relying on family and friends for information on college enrollment tend to rely exclusively on this information, without considering further options. Once in college, Latino students report having less information about college requirements than other students, but the effect is true only for Latinos in schools with relatively low levels (0 to 14 percent) of Latino enrollment. They conclude by suggesting that college administrators need to recognize and support the role of social networks in Latino students’ college experience and to enhance Latino students’ information about college.