by Gustavo De La Rosa
Latino parents have high expectations for their children’s education. Latinos have many reasons, but for the most part, parents want their children to have a better education than they had themselves. Many Latino parents did not go to school or dropped out halfway through their education back in their home country. They had different expectations.
As they immigrated to the United States, the parents did not want their children to repeat the same cycle. Instead, the Latino parents want something good for their future.
What does it mean to have high expectations within the Latino community? It is having a high standard for children to finish high school and attend a university. It means to do better and succeed in life more than your parents have. The expectation of the parents does have an impact on children’s education because it helps you gain confidence. Most parents coming from a low-income environment want their children to achieve high goals since they were not able to because they did not have the same opportunity that their children now have. In general, everyone wants the best for their children, to succeed in most cases, and children can feel a large amount of pressure due to parent’s high expectations.
What do Latinos parents expect their children to do with their education? Three careers go around in many Latino families. It’s either a doctor, lawyer, or engineer. These are the most common career paths parents want their kids to go. In reality, the children themselves do not even know what they want to do with their education. Most parents within the Latino community think that you need a college degree to be successful and have a stable life. Although high school graduation rates have improved over the last 20 years, Latinx students are not graduating high school in larger numbers. And of those who graduate, only about around 35% of enroll in 4-year or 2-year colleges.
As a kid, elementary schools tend to give high hopes at a young age. An example is when teachers would ask you to stand in front of the class and ask you what you want to be when you grow up. Many children would say they want to be a doctor, firefighter, or police officer, and teachers would go along with them. Once you get to middle school nothing progressive happens for your “dream job”, and you go with the flow. Then you graduate and go on to high school. Expectations and pressure go up for you as a student. You need to get good grades for colleges and try to get accepted into a 4-year university. Latino parents need you to start picking what you’re going to do for the rest of your life, something that brings good income. When you tell them you are going down a specific path, the parent will either support or oppose your choice. Latino parents want their children to choose a career path that will make them happy, or the parent may even tend to choose for their children because they believe it is a better choice to pursue.
Last year, there were a lot of young people that decided not to continue with their education. Instead, they proceeded on going straight to work or to start a small career path that will get them stable enough. Due to the pandemic, there was a lack of support for many young people. Some of them decided not to continue their education. I interviewed a few people about their reasons for not going to college, and there were similar responses. Some said that school wasn’t for them or that it was too much money when paying out of pocket. I asked them, “What did your parents say when you told them you were not going to school anymore?”
“My parents didn’t mind as long as I pay my rent and not be lazy at home. My parents will not bother me at all. The one that is being pressured is my older brother. He is in his third year of college studying to become an accountant. The pressure is real even though he works and goes to school to buy his books.”
I also interviewed a father’s point of view on what they think about their kids’ education. He responded, “They have to give all they have because I didn’t have an opportunity to go to school. I would have loved going to school, but I didn’t. While my other sibling did get to go, I had to work. There were many times when my kids were young, and they would ask me for help doing their homework. I wouldn’t even know how to answer the question. I would turn him down and tell him I was busy and would send him to his older sibling for help, but the truth is I didn’t know how to help my kid. That is why I go hard and expect a lot in their education so when they have their kid, they can help them out and not repeat the situation I was in when they were kids”. The expectation in a Latino education is high because they want a better life for them, and they want to avoid repeating the same cycle of life they had.