Theses Doctoral

From High School to Post-Secondary Life--Exploring the College Transition Experiences of Bilingual Latinx Youth

McCoy, Lauren K.

The current neoliberal education system often positions bilingual youth as deficient or lacking in skills. The discourse from some academic research paradigms tends to also take up this deficit orientation, focusing on the issues and needs of Latinx bilingual students, or the pedagogical strategies to “close achievement gaps.”

The NYC Department of Education has attempted to address gaps in achievement by offering increased access to college and career readiness programs, positioning access as synonymous to equity. However, access alone does not lead to equity when the systems and norms that prioritize assimilation to the dominant white culture are not being challenged; moreover, increased access will not lead to equity if the voices and experiences of marginalized youth experiencing the transition to college are not amplified.

This project will add to the growing body of scholarly work that aims to subvert deficit discourse around bilingual students by inviting them to author their own stories about their experiences in the transition to college. These narratives bring up various aspects of the transition to college: how first-generation Latinx bilingual youth navigate cultural and linguistic expectations in college, how they navigate the white, western, and patriarchal institutional norms of the college going process, sources of support in their educational journeys, what factors influenced their college choices, and how they have experienced college in the context of a global pandemic.

This research recognizes bilingual students’ experiences and knowledges as truths, positioning them as knowledge creators. The purpose of this study is to document and explore how first-generation Latinx/ bilingual students experience the transition from high school to college, and how they navigate and question spaces in high school and college fraught with linguistic and cultural erasure. Employing Chicana Feminist epistemologies and post-positive realist perspectives of identity, this study will use pláticas to better understand the experiences of Latinx students as they transition to college, what educators can do to support their transition, and to think about how educators can work alongside Latinx students to fight erasure.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Curriculum and Teaching
Thesis Advisors
Ghiso, Maria Paula
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
May 31, 2023