Undermatching: Encouraging Latino Students to Apply to “Selective” Universities


We have so many amazing and talented children living right here in Pico Rivera. I’ve always been so impressed with the level of high achieving students in our community. Yet, one thing gives me and my husband Gilbert great pause. It’s the lack of Latino college bound students applying and attending prestigious “selective” universities throughout the nation.

Attending a selective university such as Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania or Dartmouth College in New Hampshire can have an astronomical effect on the future of your child’s professional career and personal growth. The networking, job opportunities and life experiences are endless, and can provide your child with a well-rounded background that is invaluable to their future.

You might be asking yourself, “why should my child attend a university that’s far away and expensive, when there are perfectly good colleges around Pico Rivera?” The reason? While many continue to see a local public university as the most affordable option for their family, we now know that due to all of the funding changes at the federal and state level, it’s not as reasonably priced as it used to be.

Selective universities are a terrific option for low-income, high achieving students because many of the best-endowed private colleges are more generous with their financial aid. This means that if your child applies and is selected — even if the school is outside of California — they might be able to obtain a college degree from a prestigious university with little to no debt.

Unfortunately, research shows that every year, tens of thousands of high academic students from lower-income backgrounds do not apply to our country’s leading institutions.

In fact, only “8 percent of high-achieving, low-income students are “achievement typical” in their application patterns, meaning they applied to institutions that closely matched their abilities, including at least one selective safety school,” according to a research study led by Stanford University’s Caroline M. Hoxby and Harvard Kennedy School ‘s Christopher Avery.

If our students attend a top college or university, their earning potential greatly increases.   This has a trickle down affect on us all, and will not only assist them, but also improve the education of our entire community to become a stronger, and more skilled workforce. Let’s do our part to support our children in their efforts to reach their academic goals, and encourage them to look beyond Pico Rivera and in many cases, California, to find their new path.

To learn more about the challenges of undermatching (when students of high academic potential do apply to selective universities), please click on the top studies and articles about the subject below.