Improving College-Going Trends for First Generation Latino Students: The Importance
of Habitus, School Culture and Culturally Responsive Counseling
by Dr. Patricia A. Marchesi
Abstract: In a departure from former deficit models that highlight what impedes college enrollment for Latino students who are first in the family to attend college, this study attempted to identify aspects of school culture and culturally responsive counseling that supported college going for Latino first generation college-goers. Using a qualitative, case study approach, this research employed semi-structured interviews with four school counselors, and with ten students who were Latino, as well as first in the family to attend college. Conclusions from this research point to the importance of "habitus", defined as ingrained habits, skills, and dispositions that individuals possess due to their life experiences. In addition, findings from interviews with students and school counselors revealed that a strong college-going culture, rigorous academic preparation, early development of college aspirations, and involving parents/guardians and the outlying community were factors within a school's "habitus" that supported college going, specifically for Latino students who will be first in their families to attend college.