Caballeros making capital gains : the role of social capital in Latino first-year college persistence : a case study analysis of a predominantly white 4-year institution
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The goal of this study was to develop a nuanced understanding of the first-year experience of Latino males attending a predominantly White public flagship institution of higher education. Specifically, the study sought to examine the relationship between their ability to draw upon and use various forms of social capital, and their persistence to the second year of college. Qualitative data were collected at the conclusion of the students’ first year and at the beginning of their second year of college and the study was guided by social capital theory. Results indicate students gained access to an elite institution of higher education and persisted to the second year through application of their strong academic ganas, rich familial wealth, and through the essential support of key high-volume institutional agents. Students engaged in a strategic and deliberative transition process during the first year that was customized to fit their personal needs and life experiences. Students engaged in discerning, tactical and selective friendship creation and management during the first year, and treated this exercise as a long-term investment in their success. Finally, academic support programs facilitated transition and served as vital sources of support and resilience during the first year of college. Research findings will be of interest to researchers, policymakers, administrators and practitioners who aspire to improve the college completion rates of their Latino undergraduate populations.