Neither Colorblind nor Oppositional: Perceived Minority Status and Trajectories of Academic Adjustment among Latinos in Elite Higher Education

Margarita A. Mooney, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Deborah Rivas-Drake, Brown University

Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Freshmen, we examine how differing psychosocial orientations influence Latino students’ academic and social adjustment at college. We find that accommodators—who felt ethnically distinctive from Whites but maintained optimism toward the U.S. opportunity structure—performed significantly better in their academic work over the course of their four years than assimilators—who felt the least ethnically distinct from Whites. The group of Latinos who most strongly questioned the openness of the opportunity structure to ethnic minorities—resisters—reported similar grades and time spent studying to both accommodators and assimilators. Although resisters did not look different from assimilators or accommodators in their academic trajectories, they did become significantly more involved in extracurricular activities between sophomore and junior years. Our findings suggest that these three psychological orientations toward minority status all provide effective paths toward the academic integration of Latino students on primarily White campuses.

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Presented in Session 103: Race, Ethnicity, and Education