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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Gangs and College Knowledge: An Examination of Latino Male Students Attending an Alternative School

  • Author(s): Huerta, Adrian Hernandez
  • Advisor(s): McDonough, Patricia M
  • et al.

The purpose of this dissertation is to understand how 13 Latino male students acquire and make sense of gang and college knowledge in one alternative/continuation schools in Rock County School District. Less than 45 percent of Latino males graduate from public schools in that state of the study (Schott Foundation for Public Education, 2015). Using Bourdieu’s (1980, 1990) cultural capital and habitus and Coleman’s (1988, 1990) social capital theories serves as a combined lens to consider how Latino males are taught how to perform in an appropriate or expected fashion in their communities, accrue benefits in their various social networks, and understand how these individuals’ social histories and experiences influences aspirations and expectations for their future. Findings suggest that 10 of the 13 students are more aware of gang membership requirements than college admission criteria. Ten of the 13 students want to attend a technical or vocational college and four-year universities. Most students believe their only college financing options are working full-time and/or student loans. Only two students mentioned a teacher, counselors, or school administrator trying to actively help them prepare or share college information. The results of the study can help high school college counselors, college outreach professionals, and social services practitioners to develop better prevention strategies to alter or create earlier interventions that promote college-going cultures.

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