Finding the Perfect Hispanic Institution for Higher Education
Hispanics have been working in the fastest-growing segment of the United States workforce, making it necessary for them to have access to quality higher education. Providing Hispanics with the opportunity to go to college has not only proven to be beneficial to them, but is also great for employers and society in general. It’s always great to have talented, well-educated employees.
With more Latinos enrolling in college recently, it’s obvious that more are taking higher education seriously and with ambition. This progression has urged higher education institutions to become more engaged and provide them with useful resources, student organizations, and/or access to scholarship opportunities. With a plethora of colleges to choose from, you’re bound to find one that’s just right for you. But how do you begin? Let’s break the process down into simple steps so that your college search is as easy and smooth-sailing as possible.
Having so many different colleges and universities to choose from, it’s no wonder deciding on which school to attend can be a daunting task. But, beginning your Hispanic college search early on can help minimize stress and anxiety. For example, you could start by creating a handy list of qualities in a school that’s important to you. During this process, you’ll want to factor in location, majors available, student body size, financial aid availability, and extracurricular activities when narrowing down your list of top colleges.
Another essential consideration is the type of school you want to attend. Do you see yourself going to a Hispanic community college? Community colleges are a great option for those who are on a tight budget but still want to get a higher education. They’re more affordable and typically boast smaller classes than traditional colleges and universities. Alternatively, you may envision yourself as part of a larger student body in a standard four-year Hispanic college. If this sounds like you, then you will have to really think about finances and come up with a solid plan on how you will afford it.
Finally, think about what kind of profession you are interested in exploring. This can help you to further narrow down your list of top colleges so you get closer to “the one.” For example, if you plan to become an entrepreneur and see yourself being your own boss after graduating, then you may benefit from attending a Hispanic business school.
Once you’ve identified qualities and found some potential colleges, it’s time to rank them. We recommend creating a list of 3 “dream schools,” 3 “safety schools,” and 3 “back-up schools.” This way, you’re giving yourself more options and naturally have back-up plans in place early on.
Get Finances Together
College is a hefty investment, and the cost continues to rise each year. While having a quality higher education is crucial, many families and students struggle to fund their Hispanic college education. But, this shouldn’t deter you from applying and going if you get accepted into a college you like. There are plenty of ways to finance your tuition, and it’s possible to stack up grants and scholarships:
Federal Financial Aid
The federal government awards a generous chunk of financial aid to Hispanic college students each year. To qualify, you must properly file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Local Financial Aid
Sometimes, you don’t have to look very far for financial assistance. You’d be surprised at what you can find in your community! Local organizations like the American Legion, the Rotary Club, and the Boosters chapter often allocate scholarship funds specifically for college-bound students in the area. If you aren’t sure whether your community currently has scholarships you can apply for, you can always find out by popping into your high school’s career office. A counselor will be able to tell you and even provide tips and further direction on where else you can continue your financial aid search!
Corporate Financial Aid
Numerous corporations will provide financial aid to college-bound students all around the country. Start by asking around those you know, like your own parents. Have them look into potential financial aid opportunities. Then, branch out to friends and family friends. Using your network here can come in handy in helping you secure a good financial aid package!
Categorical Financial Aid
A lot of Latino American students are able to get scholarships and grants just for being who they are! In other words, search for scholarships and grants awarded specifically to Hispanics. The Hispanic Scholarship Fund awards more scholarship support to the Hispanic community than any other organization in the United States. So, whether you are a high school senior or a community college student eager to transfer to a four-year college, or even a student in a graduate or professional program, you may be able to take advantage of what HSF (or a similar scholarship fund) has to offer to help you complete your education with less financial stress.
Plan Ahead of Time
Not only should you begin your college search early, you also want to get started on the financial aid process as soon as possible. This is because awards are given out on a first-come, first-served basis. If you are late to the game, your chances of getting an appealing scholarship or grant becomes slimmer. We recommend starting the financial aid search process as early as sophomore year in high school. Ideally, students should start collecting and organizing applications, writing essays, gathering recommendations, and having test scores and transcripts on hand.
Part of planning involves staying organized with paperwork and being mindful of different deadlines. Chances are, you’ll be applying for more than one scholarship and grant, and each will have their own deadlines. Avoid mixing up dates by neatly penciling in the deadlines in a calendar that you can easily reference. The last thing you want is to miss out on a good opportunity simply because you didn’t meet the application deadline!
With so much to consider when looking for the right Hispanic college, and finances to sort through, it can get overwhelming. But, planning and starting early is key to a smooth college search experience! The sooner you get your ducks in a row, the less stressed you’ll be, with plenty of time to meet deadlines and ensure everything is received in a timely manner.