College Talk: Financial Burden

Every typical family, no matter the demographic, has financial concerns to think about, such as bills, mortgages, and weekly expenses, just to name a few. However, when we do take families’ backgrounds into account, a different perspective on the possible financial grind of American life is revealed. Latino households are still feeling the effects of the recession that hit the nation starting in 2008, which was a nation-wide lag in economic activity. While there are many American families who can say they have recovered from the hard times the recession imposed, there are a number of Latino families who are having to make financial decision with the weight of the recession still on their shoulders.

So for the Latino families still feeling the recession, what expenses will have to be put on the back-burner? Well, the answer to this may be different for each household depending on the family’s needs. However, one particular expense to highlight at present would be the cost of higher education. Teens in high school are typically encouraged by counselors and administrators to consider college. It is not unusual for parents to want their children to lead lives more successful than their own, which, for many Latino teens, especially first-generation U.S. citizens, this would mean attending college and perhaps earning multiple degrees.

Although Latino parents would likely want their teen to be looking into higher education, there is still the issue that this might be a financial burden on the family. It is common in a family for the parents to want to protect their children from the world of “grown-up concerns,” one of which is money. However, teens are old enough to know that they are not guaranteed a place in an American college or university without work, motivation, and money, so what is the conversation about the prospect of college like between Latina teens and their parents, if there even is one?

For El Paso teens Camila Mosier, 15, and Melissa Acosta, 13, conversations about college have definitely been held at length before. Both girls’ parents have expressed that they want them to attend college although they understand it might be a financial strain. That is why they have also encouraged the girls to stay focused and work hard throughout their high school years, allowing them a better chance of earning scholarships. Although she is only a first-year in high school and won’t be making serious choices about college for a few years, Melissa Acosta has shown that there are ways in which she as a dedicated student can make sure she has a better chance of attending college.

“I decided to attend Valle Verde High School. It’s an early-college school, and I am planning to study psychology…I hope that with great effort and work I can be valedictorian,” says Melissa.

Because she is attending an early-college high school, Melissa will be able to graduate with her associate’s degree and will have the opportunity to graduate from a Texas college or university in fewer years than most.

“My parents have started a fund but these days that’s obviously not enough,” says Camila, who has the understanding that what she pursues now will influence her college applications.

Camila plays the cello and acts, and although she doesn’t know what she wants to study yet, she knows that she can continue to grow in her skills as a cellist and actress and use these skills to her advantage.

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