It's never too early to start thinking about a college career -- or at least to get kids to look on college as a fun road to a better life.
"Since research has shown that the middle-school years significantly affect whether children pursue higher education, it is vital for us to reach students during these highly impressionable years," Ivonne Díaz-Claisse, president, CEO and founder of Hispanics Inspiring Students' Performance and Achievement, said in a news release.
HISPA works with major corporations such as AT&T, Accenture and Bristol- Myers Squibb to recruit Hispanic professionals to become mentors to middle-school students. The mentors visit schools and talk with students about their life and work experiences.
The HISPA Role Model Program is a longstanding collaboration between HISPA and the Educational Testing Service (ETS) to improve educational opportunities for Hispanic students.
To better understand how program affects middle-school students, ETS works with HISPA to survey students who participated in the program.
"The information will help HISPA refine and revise various aspects of its program by providing a better understanding of the participating students' needs and enabling HISPA to provide schools and funding agencies with data on the impact and efficacy of the program," said Fred Cline, ETS's lead research project manager, who is in charge of the study.
Survey results showed that after participating in the HISPA Role Model Program:
• 96 percent of students thought more seriously about attending college
• 76 percent of students were more interested in attending college
• 74 percent of students were more likely to believe they could attend college
• 82 percent of students thought that attending college would be fun
Students consistently rated the sessions as interesting and inspiring regardless of whether the career being discussed was something they would like to do. The survey also showed that students seemed to engage the most with role models who focused on their personal stories and seemed enthusiastic about college, according to the release.
Student responses indicate that cost and scholastic performance remain barriers, however. This suggests that future role models should discuss how they financed their educations or how they eventually succeeded in school, according to the release.
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