February 2, 2012 – Annie Levenson-Falk of the Citizens League and Juve Meza of NAVIGATE joined us to talk about Immigration and Access to Higher Education. In fact, much of this article was written using research Annie completed. Any student who comes from an immigrant family, or any student whose parents are foreign-born, whether the student was born abroad or in the United States.Immigrants in Minnesota come from all around the world and from all kinds of family backgrounds. (One hundred and fifty languages and dialects are spoken by students in the Minneapolis Public schools alone.)
Unfortunately, Minnesota has one of the highest achievement gaps in the nation. That includes a lot of immigrant students. The achievement gap refers to refers to the gap in average academic results between Caucasian and minority students.
- Information: We do a poor job communicating the importance of higher education to immigrant students. These students might not be asking the right questions about what they need to do to qualify for college or university programs. At the same time, schools might not be doing a good job communicating that information to students.
- Language: If you don’t speak the language, how will you know about college, etc?
- Culture: Some cultures approach academics differently than Americans. In some cultures families aren’t involved with their children’s schooling much at all. Some places don’t put the same value on higher education. They might be the first person in their family even thinking about college.
- Finances: Many scholarships and financial aid packages can be out-of-reach for students who weren’t born in the U.S. Or worse, the students and even their guidance counselors may just assume that because they’re foreign born they won’t qualify for financial aid.