Nuñez, A. M., & Crisp, G. (2012). Ethnic diversity and Latino/a college access: A comparison of Mexican American and Puerto Rican beginning college students. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, 5(2), 78.

Prior research has indicated that there are differences among the diverse Latino/a ethnic groups in their K-12 educational experiences, but little is known about variations in their postsecondary experiences. Drawing on a conceptual framework informed by the theory of French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, this research examined Mexican American and Puerto Rican students’ college choice and enrollment patterns using the Beginning Postsecondary Students: 04/06 national data set (n = 1,620). Descriptive findings indicated several notable differences between the two ethnic groups, including age and access to cultural, financial, and academic capital. Most notably, Mexican American first-time beginning college students were almost twice as likely as their Puerto Rican counterparts to start postsecondary education at 2-year institutions. Results of logistic regression analyses revealed that Mexican American and Puerto Ricans’ decisions to enroll at a 2- or a 4-year institution were uniquely influenced by students’ age, cultural capital, academic capital, and quantity and quality of colleges considered. Broader contextual factors that could enhance or hinder Mexican Americans’ and Puerto Ricans’ educational access to 4-year institutions, including citizenship status and geographical location, are also addressed. Implications for promoting educational equity among Latino/as and for promoting racial/ethnic diversity in postsecondary institutions are discussed.

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