Academic Mentorship and Immigrant Latino Students

Immigrant participation in school-sponsored academic mentorship and activities enhances social and educational achievement

Research Shows

  • Latino immigrant students are less likely to join academic extracurricular activities compared to natives or other immigrant populations (1).
  • Mentoring programs after school encourages Latino immigrant students to pursue higher education (2;3).
  • Latino Youth dropout rates can be mitigated by mentoring and adult supervision (2).
Due to their immigration status, Latino students often avoid interactions with school staff and other students, from fear of deportation (7).  Mentoring and academic programs help lower dropout rates through their support (4). Immigrant youth who participate in mentoring programs and supervised academic after-school activities fare better academically (2). Studies find that mentoring programs which support and serve families can increase the involvement of Latino immigrant parents in their children’s education (2345). Mentoring programs support persistence in college (37). Adult relationships and a supportive environment motivate students to higher academic and social accomplishments (6). Therefore, mentoring helps improve the academic life a child. This means funding should be required to implement mentoring programs in schools and in the community. With poor funding for public schools in small towns, it is important to support the education of Latino immigrant students with providing extra assistance, if needed. Finally, mentoring programs and academic after-school activities promote students integration into school life more generally, which increases students’ willingness to achieve academically (236).

Intended Audience

  • School Boards
  • Educators
  • Policy Makers
  • Municipal Community Organizers

Related Projects

Research Details

Behnke surveyed 500 Latino immigrant youth in North Carolina High Schools. Suarez-Orozco, Suarez-Orozco, and Peuguero analyzed large amounts of literature and previous data to derive their conclusions. Green also gathered data from a previous study done by Longitudinal Immigration Student Adaption (LISA, Suarez-Orozco, Suarez-Orozco), a five year study that documented patterns of integration among 406 central American immigrants, using a variety of approaches. With the expansive ELS: 2002, Peuguero makes sweeping, non-specific conclusions. A comprehensive review of the literature allows Suarez-Orozco and Suarez-Orozco imbues academic rigor into their analysis. Sanchez surveyed Latino students in a Midwestern high school, and gathered data from observation and school reported statistics on a variety of characteristics like attendance, courses, and grades. Okamoto, utilized 15,000 surveys from 170 US high schools in the NLSAH. Original surveys provide important insight to the youths’ mindsets within the region, although it may not be applicable beyond the specific context.


Continuing Debates

Although the literature overwhelmingly highlights the benefits of extracurricular activities on social development, one critique distinguishes between social and educational benefits derived from these programs. This analysis finds better behavioral and social conditions as a result of specifically after school mentoring, however it either finds slightly positive or slightly negative effects for academic performance in science, reading, social studies, and mathematics (3). Another consideration is the socioeconomic conditions within the receiving community’s school. A high socioeconomic environment generates greater social alienation of Latino students, although, higher immigrant population increased social integration (8).


These findings contend that academic mentorship and an increase in adult supervised academic extra-curricular activities fosters greater academic integration. These programs cause a growth in Latino immigrant self-confidence, which translates into an upsurge in overall student involvement. However, in order for such change to occur there is a need for a revision in educational and immigration policy, which allows for implementation of mentoring programs in schools, as well as more trained adult supervised after school programs. While mentoring programs and academic clubs cause a positive response in the lives of immigrant students, issues arise when students begin to think about higher education. With policies such as the DREAM act only supported in certain states, the incentive for education weakens once students enter their senior year of High School. Politics and economics begin to get in the way of an immigrant student’s pursuit for higher education. While in-state tuition is offered in some states, often times the economic burden of tuition and loans prevents Latino immigrant students from pursuing higher education (7).

Potential Challenges

  • Rural communities will not be able to implement such programs if they already lack education resources.
  • Sufficient funding may not be available in rural communities with relatively large immigrant populations.


1. Peguero, Anthony A. 2010. “Immigrant Youth Involvement in School-Based Extracurricular Activities.” The Journal of Educational Research 104, no. 1: 19-27.
2. Suárez-Orozco, Carola, and Marcelo M Suárez-Orozco. 2009. “Educating Latino Immigrant Students in the Twenty-First Century: Principles for the Obama Administration.” Harvard Educational Review 79, no. 2: 327-340, 401.
3. DuBois, David L., Thomas E. Keller, and Marc E. Wheeler. 2010. “Review of Three Recent Randomized Trials of School-Based Mentoring.” Social Policy Report 24, no. 3: 1-27. Accessed November 9, 2014.
4. Behnke, A. O., L. M. Gonzalez, and R. B. Cox. 2010. “Latino Students in New Arrival States: Factors and Services to Prevent Youth From Dropping Out.” Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences 32, no. 3: 385-409.
5. Sanchez, Bernadette., Patricia, Ezparza., Yari Colon. 2008. “Natural Mentoring Under the Microscope: An Investigation of Mentoring Relationships and Latino Adolescents’ Academic Performance.” Journal of Community Psychology no 4: 468-482.
6. Green, Gillian., et al. 2007. “Supporting adult relationships and the academic engagement of Latin American immigrant youth.” Journal of School Psychology no 46: 393-412.
7. Contreras, Frances. 2009. “Sin Papeles y Rompiendo Barreras: Latino Students and the Challenges of Persisting in College.” Harvard Educational Review 79.4: 610-631.781.
8. Okamoto, Dina G., Daniel Herda, and Cassie Hartzog. 2013. “Beyond Good Grades: School Composition and Immigrant Youth Participation in Extracurricular Activities.” Social Science Research 42 (1): 155-168.


Marcus Eeman, August Bruggeman, and Bianca Renteria