VIRGINIA - College access and success for Latino students improves when counselors work to increase awareness of higher education options and include families in the application process.

Those strategies are among several recommendations highlighted in a report recently released by the National Association of College Admission Counseling (NACAC) and Excelencia in Education.

The publication — “College Counseling for Latino and Underrepresented Students” — includes findings from a national survey, as well information gathered through visits to six U.S. high schools.

Data show that students are more likely to enroll in four-year colleges when high schools prioritize postsecondary admission advising and offer individualized counseling to students and their families.

The strategies, valuable for all demographic groups, were particularly effective in increasing enrollment rates among students at majority non-white schools, according to the study.

“This report shows that as student demographics change, the ways we help students research and apply to colleges must also change,” said Joyce Smith, NACAC’s chief executive officer. “College admission counselors play a critical role in opening up the doors of higher education, particularly for first-generation students.”

Latino students account for nearly a quarter of all U.S. K-12 students. They are more likely than their white peers to be the first in their families to attend college, making frequent and personalized counseling sessions critically important, according to the study.

“College counselors who are knowledgeable about the strengths and needs of Latino students and who are intentional in reaching out to Latinos in their strategies, make a big difference,” said Deborah Santiago, Excelencia in Education’s chief operating officer and vice president for policy. “We hope this report helps inform and compel further action to include Latino students in the important work counselors do every day.”   

In addition, the study recommends that high school staff working with Latino students:

§  Start early: Begin the college planning process in ninth grade to allow time for students and families to factor in academic, financial and family considerations on the path to college.

§  Develop cultural fluency: Outreach efforts are most effective when counselors are familiar with Hispanic culture. Written materials about college preparation and admission should be offered in both English and Spanish.

§  Offer comprehensive financial aid counseling: Latino families often encounter hurdles — including language barriers, poverty and immigration status — that can negatively impact their children’s access to higher education. Given those challenges, providing in-depth financial aid counseling is especially important.  

§  Invest in counselors: Sufficient resources are needed to hire, train and equip school counselors to serve Latino students in pursuit of college access and success.

NACAC is an Arlington, Virginia-based education association of more than 14,000 primary and secondary school counselors, independent counselors, college admission and financial aid officers, enrollment managers, and organizations that work with students as they make the transition from high school to postsecondary education. Founded in 1937, the association is committed to maintaining high standards that foster ethical and social responsibility among those involved in the transition process, as outlined in the NACAC Statement of Principles of Good Practice. For more information, visit

About Excelencia in Education
Excelencia in Education accelerates Latino student success in higher education by promoting Latino student achievement, conducting analysis to inform educational policies, and advancing institutional practices while collaborating with those committed and ready to meet the mission. Launched in 2004 in the nation’s capital, Excelencia is building a network of results-oriented educators and policymakers to address the U.S. economy’s need for a highly educated workforce and engaged civic leadership. For more information, visit:


Release Date
Thu, 04/23/2015 - 8:17am
Arlington, VA
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