Higher Education and Marketing


Mama always said, “¡Hay que estudiar!” (You’ve got to study!)  Perhaps you’ve heard similar chants from your Hispanic family members growing up.  In my experience, our Latino parents appreciate the value of an education, even if they don’t possess a high degree of education themselves.  This observation is validated by this USA Today headline that ran on July 30, 2010:

 “87% of Hispanics value higher educations, 13% have college degree.”

Source: http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2010-07-30-poll-hispanic-college_N.htm

The article goes on to say that, “Despite strong belief in the value of a college diploma, Hispanics more often than not fall short of that goal.”  Some of the reasons cited to explain the gap between Hispanics’ intense value for higher education and the low level of college degree attainment include:

  • The rising cost of higher education combined with a culture-based hesitation to borrow in order to finance their college aspirations
  • Family obligations
  • Lukewarm support from parents and teachers

Do you agree with these assertions?  More importantly, what are the consequences to our long-term U.S. economy if the nation’s largest minority group – Hispanics – do not close the gap between their aspirations for a higher education and actually securing a college degree?


The U.S. Census Bureau reports that a “College Degree Nearly Doubles Annual Earnings.”   Advertisers prefer to target market segments with buying power.  Therefore, it stands to reason that advertisers marketing brands to Hispanics with buying power would benefit from partnering with institutions that are successfully producing Hispanic college graduates into our U.S. economy, right?  So then why are there soo few major advertisers with a comprehensive Hispanic college graduate agenda incorporated into their national Hispanic marketing strategy?  I’m not talking about a $25 iTunes coupon at graduation gimmick.  I am suggesting that major advertisers invest in creating an omnipresent branding relationship with these Hispanic college graduate producing institutions that is meaningful from admissions to commencement.  The college years are usually reflected on with admiration, particularly for Hispanic degree holders who are often first-generation graduates in their family (same can be said for many minority groups).  It would be smart business to participate in the lives of these future Latino graduates who according to my marketing experience, tend to be unusually brand loyal relative to the general population.  Here is an abridged list of the universities supplying our U.S. economy with the largest number of Hispanics with college degrees:

Bachelor’s Degrees

  • Florida International University (FIU)
  • University of Texas (UT) schools – UT-Pan American, UT-El Paso and UT-San Antonio
  • California State University system schools Cal State Fullerton, San Diego State University, Cal State Northridge and Cal State Long Beach
  • Arizona State University
  • Barry University (FL)
  • Penn State
  • Texas Tech
  • Cal State Poly in both San Luis Obispo and Pomona


Master’s Degrees

  • Florida International University
  • DeVry University-Illinois
  • Texas A&M University
  • University of California-Berkeley



  • Nova Southeastern University (FL)
  • University of Southern California
  • University of California-Berkeley
  • University of California-Los Angeles
  • University of Florida

Source: http://www.hispanicoutlook.com/top100.htm

Agree or disagree, we welcome your facts, figures and feelings on www.BornBiculturalUSA.com

Best regards,

Alberto Padron




  1. Great piece. There is a lot of talk from organizations and business about trends, but I see no action. I am myself a college graduate and I hesitated for years to go back and get a masters because of the ridiculous costs and as you mentioned… family obligations. I am now in a grad program so that I can go work in the nonprofit sector (where I have been working for well over a decade), but I did not receive any sort of help when I requested it from my financial aid office. I guess they were just more interested in me getting loans and paying them off. There is a HUGE disconnect between organization/companies/firms, etc., that serve Latinos in this country. They don’t speak our “language” and what I mean by that is that they are not catering to our cultural beliefs/needs and our ways of doing things. If you want our dollars, start investing in us and you will see that we are a worthwhile investment. We will be close to 30% of the population of the U.S. by the time 2025 arrives. We need more representation at every level. I know that I much rather give my money where I see more of my people represented at the top. It’s time to educate EVERYONE.

  2. Alberto, I thoroughly enjoyed this article, and your project (Born Bicultural USA) in general. I am a recent college grad and I think it is so important for the following generations to understand that the future of our country rests solely upon our actions, as we stand to become the largest group sooner than later. I commend your project and posts for encouraging critical thinking about the issues at hand.

  3. This was a great blog. I missed this article in the USA Today. I agree with their main barriers a 100%. I’ve written several articles over the years on this topic and all my interviews and research falls into inline

    -“cost and culture-based hesitation to borrow” To most Latinos the concept of owing $80,000 in student loans is as alien as the Mars landscape. Unless someone else in the family has successfully done it, the comfort level is just not there.

    -“Family obligations” this is more perception than anything, meaning Latin kids think they need to be home or near home, so they dont go away for school and then pulled back into helping the family or fail to make the bonds on campus that will keep them in till graduation.

    – “Lukewarm support from parents and teachers” i agree with this one less than the others. The desire to support is there on the part of the parents, but they dont have the knowledge to support (ie understanding SATs, financial aid, admissions, etc)

    I’m proud to see our alma mater, FIU at the top of these lists. Not sure how we dont lead the doctoral category too.

    1. Julio,

      As usual, another strong contribution by you. Thank you soo much for continuing to support this forum.

      The next time you’re in South Florida, we should tour some of our local universities together to assess the current day experience of first-generation minority college students firsthand.

      Saludos hermano.


      Alberto Padron

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