Some hope for the future – Hispanic students and college


Mellander, G. A. (2004, May 03). Targeting higher education: Hispanic students and college –

by the numbers. The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education, 14, 9. Retrieved from  

Mellander’s (2004) article “Targeting Higher Education; Hispanic Students and College – By the Numbers” goes into depth regarding the data of Hispanic students in institutions of higher learning, comparing graduation rates of Hispanics, Whites, and African-Americans attaining associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s degrees. Further, the article analyzes the types of degrees that Hispanics attain which predominately fall into the categories of education and public administration (Mellander, 2004, p. 1).

This article also mentions the need for better service of Hispanic students in higher education institutions. Mellander makes this conclusion through data, comparing the rising population percentage rate of Hispanic students versus their college graduation rates. The author also uses additional data-supported evidence from specific studies. For example, Mellander (2004) writes, “Hispanics as a group appreciate education. In 1999, 41 percent of Hispanics 17 years and older participated actively in adult education. That seems like a large percentage, but even there, Hispanics lag behind other racial/ethnic cohorts. For instance, among employed Hispanics in this age group, the percentage was 44 percent; for Whites-53 percent” (Mellander, p. 4). The positive implications of this study are tempered by the comparison.   Still, the comparison may be unnecessary at this point in education. Rather, the positives might instead be accentuated.

The strengths of this article center around the illumination of trends in graduation rates with regards to the rise in population rates of Hispanics. Also, the article does a nice job in describing the types of degrees Hispanics do attain when they graduate from college. This leads me to implications of this text. As stated, when Hispanics attain higher education degrees, the degrees themselves are, mostly, in education. This is both important and disconcerting. Firstly, this may be an oversimplification, but maybe a generation of Hispanics needs to become successful grade school and high school teacher and college professors who in turn inspire subsequent generations to become doctors, lawyers, and engineers. Again, that may be an oversimplification of a current problem that needs to be addressed today. Further programs need to become more prevalent that facilitate Hispanics to graduate with degrees other than education and public administration.


This article is well-organized with informative and easy to follow headings, leading me to find exactly what I was looking for quickly. For instance, its first sub-heading College Completion Rates elucidates that current trends in education indicate that Hispanics do attain college degrees at a lower rate than other races and ethnicities.

Contribution to Field

After doing some research on the author, I found that Gustavo Mellander writes multiple articles under the title of “Targeting Higher Education.” This particular one centers around the numbers of Hispanic students who graduate from college compared with other races and ethnicities. Also in this series, for example, are:

  • College presidents: minorities and women
  • 2013 – A year to be remembered
  • Hispanic trends

It’s led me to clearly see that with this article and all the others, Gustavo Mellander is someone who I’ll be reading a lot throughout my research. The prodigious Mellander has served as the dean or president of multiple universities and colleges in addition to his writing contributions.

Literature Review

I appreciated Mellander’s use of NCES (National Center for Educational Statistics) data. When reflecting upon a writer’s use of sources to support his or her claim, hard data to me always trumps anecdotal information. I probably should amend that, however. I learned from last week’s class that data is one thing, but the usage of multiple modes or types of data is just as or even more important. At the same time, Mellander’s article does not use additional sources to support his data. Quite simply, this piece, though effective, clear, and informative, is solely a summation of NCES reports. I do think the interpreter is important or even vital in all of this. Mellander may, given his experience in the field, pick out nuggets of salient data that other researchers and writers would not.

Data Collection

Another reason Mellander’s data hold gravitas and validity is that the statistics he’s using go back to the 1970s. It’s not as if he’s parlaying five-year trends on this topic. The author takes a long-view here, which allows the reader to gain a clear picture of what is going on with regards to the graduation rates of Hispanic students.


Though Hispanic college graduation rates lag when compared to other races and ethnicities, this must and will change. I think this will be due to the sheer volume of the Hispanic population. Honestly, I think this population growth will create positive reverberations throughout entities like universities but also even larger institutions like politics and our state government. I hope that in Arizona, for instance, the population will increase so much that certain politicians who do not support education will be swept out of the higher offices in our state. State universities will have to find ways to more fully support the Hispanic student population or there will be negative societal consequences. This falls, as well, on high school teachers like me, and I take this challenge seriously. The positive inevitability of the Hispanic population boom just might be the great educational opportunity in our state in the next 20-50 years.

Theoretical Framework/Lens

Through his data analysis and presentation of his findings, I notice that Mellander presents this information almost as an advocate or coach of Hispanic college students. His data analysis, in a strange way, makes me think of that oft-mythologizes, Knute Rockne “Win one for the gipper” quote. Yes, Mellander present NCES data in a highly professional manner, but he also does so, in my mind, with a rooting interest.

Findings & Conclusions

The author of this article is not happy or content with the data he’s researched. He uses the word “disproportionally” an awful lot. Still, the author is not without hope. It seems each time he uses a word with a negative connotation to describe data trends, he consistently follows it up with a positive spin on additional data. At the conclusion of his piece, Mellander (2004) relates, “Finally, it is a matter of not being either foolishly Pollyannaish or horribly depressed. It is good to remember that ‘eternal vigilance’ is not only necessary for freedom but essential for progress as well” (p. 9). I appreciate Mellander calling for “eternal vigilance” to close his piece. No matter the numbers positive or negative, no matter where the numbers are trending, Hispanic students, and teachers like myself, must consistently look to continue to build upon prior successes.

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Steve Smith

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1 comment — post a comment

Gustavo A.Mellander

Enjoyed your analysis. Quite insightful. You must have had great teachers and you were a good student.

Good luck with your research.
Life is indeed an adventure!

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