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Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Jason G. Irizarry

Second Advisor

Ryan S. Wells

Third Advisor

Megan Armstrong-Abrami

Subject Categories

Higher Education


Despite constituting the largest group of minoritized students, Latinx students continue to have the lowest educational attainment compared to all other groups in the U.S. (U.S. Census Bureau, 2013). While Latinx enrollment in college has increased, the majority of Latinx high school graduates enroll in community college as opposed to 4-year Bachelor’s degree granting higher education institutions, and only a small percentage of these students will ever transfer into a 4-year college or university (Excelencia in Education, 2015; Kurlaender, 2006; Perez & Ceja, 2015). Increasing participation in higher education among Latinxs requires a better understanding of college choice process for this group. To date, college choice models have largely addressed the experiences and trajectories of White middle-class students (Chapman, 1981; 1984; Hanson & Litten, 1982; So, 1987; St. John, 1990), with very little if any attention given to Latinx students. The purpose of this study was to fill this gap in the literature.Using ethnographic methods and Latino Critical Race Theory (LatCrit) as an analytic framework, this study had two interrelated objectives. The first was to unpack the experiences and knowledge base of a group of Puertorriqueña high school students approaching graduation, a critical juncture in the college choice process. The second was to map the development of their college going identities to better understand the factors that influenced their academic trajectories, higher education aspirations, and their college choice process. The findings conveyed participant narratives of aspiration, resistance and transformation related to the process of developing the concept and identity of college going. These findings emerged in two overarching themes: a) factors that contributed to the development of a concept of college-going; and b) opportunity gaps.