Home Articles Reader Opinion Editorial Book Reviews Discussion Writers Guide About TCRecord
transparent 13

Undocumented Immigrants in Higher Education: A Preliminary Analysis

by Lisa D. Garcia & William G. Tierney - 2011

Background/Context: Undocumented immigrant postsecondary students are an understudied group on American campuses. The authors suggest that increased national attention on the topic of undocumented immigration warrants an in-depth study of a small subset of the larger undocumented population—college students.

Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: The research questions guiding this analysis are: (1) How do the formal educational experiences of unauthorized college students affect their postsecondary education goals? (2) How do undocumented students attend college on a daily basis (e.g., transportation, finances, studying, employment, support networks)? (3) What role does social, political, and economic support play in unauthorized students’ success in college? The purpose of the analysis is to outline the most significant challenges that undocumented college students face in pursuing a postsecondary education. The intent is to inform a research community about those challenges and suggest future research directions.

Research Design: The manuscript begins with an overview of previous research on the topic of undocumented immigrant postsecondary students. The authors discuss three traditional areas in which first-generation, low-socioeconomic-status students encounter difficulties while pursuing a college education—financial obstacles, academic preparation, and perceptions of belonging. The article then considers the challenges these students face by way of a yearlong qualitative study that involved interviews and observations with 40 students and 5 educators knowledgeable about undocumented students. The authors frame these findings within a social capital theoretical framework that helps identify two themes—relationships and finances—concerning how undocumented students’ access to social capital can be limited by their immigration status.

Conclusions/Recommendations: Research pertaining to undocumented students is growing in its production and diversity. The authors conclude with recommendations for improving future research focusing on undocumented college students based on the project’s emerging themes.

To view the full-text for this article you must be signed-in with the appropriate membership. Please review your options below:

Store a cookie on my computer that will allow me to skip this sign-in in the future.
Send me my password -- I can't remember it
Purchase this Article
Purchase Undocumented Immigrants in Higher Education: A Preliminary Analysis
Individual-Resource passes allow you to purchase access to resources one resource at a time. There are no recurring fees.
Become a Member
Online Access
With this membership you receive online access to all of TCRecord's content. The introductory rate of $25 is available for a limited time.
Print and Online Access
With this membership you receive the print journal and free online access to all of TCRecord's content.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 113 Number 12, 2011, p. 2739-2776
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 16204, Date Accessed: 6/15/2021 10:02:13 PM

Purchase Reprint Rights for this article or review
Article Tools

Related Media

Related Articles

Related Discussion
Post a Comment | Read All

About the Author
  • Lisa Garcia
    University of Southern California
    LISA D. GARCIA is a postdoctoral research associate in the Center for Higher Education Policy Analysis (CHEPA) at the University of Southern California (USC). Her dissertation chronicled the experiences of undocumented immigrant students attending four-year institutions in California. She continues to study issues of equity, access, and diversity pertaining to first-generation college students. She has recently published articles on early notification remediation programs as well as summer bridge programs.
  • William Tierney
    University of Southern California
    E-mail Author
    WILLIAM G. TIERNEY is University Professor and Wilbur-Kieffer Professor of Higher Education and Director of the Center for Higher Education Policy Analysis at the University of Southern California. Dr. Tierney is committed to informing policies and practices related to educational equity. He is currently involved in a project to develop, evaluate, and disseminate a highly interactive, entertaining Web-enhanced computer game for low-income youth that will boost high school students’ college aspirations and equip players with knowledge about preparing for and succeeding in college. His most recent publications include: The Impact of Culture on Organizational Decision-Making and Writing on the Margins from the Center: Homeless Youth + Politics at the Borders.
Member Center
In Print
This Month's Issue