Contextualizing Higher Education: The Pilipin@ [American] Experience(s)

After reading Prof. Tracy  Buenavista’s , Examining the postsecondary experiences of Pilipino-1.5 generation college students, I began to further understand the term institutional barrier  with respect to Pilipinos in higher education. First of all, the terminology caught me a bit off guard. The usage of 1st,1.5, and 2nd generation were derived from the sociological practices with respect to immigrant youth; however, in this literature each generation means differently since it is contextualized with in higher education. A first-generation college student refers to an individual who is the first in their [immediate] family to obtain a college education. 1.5-generation college students refers to an individual whose parents obtained higher education in another country and are among the first in their [immediate] family to attend an American institution of higher education.  While a second-generation college student refers to an individual whose parents obtained their college education in the U.S and are the succeeding generation to attend an American institution of higher education.

 This literature points out problems that U.S. Pilipin@s experience when dealing with access to higher education. Admission literacy, campus information, Culture and purpose of American Colleges and Universities, these are among many issues that U.S Pilipin@s deal with when tackling the idea of going to an American College/University. The main issue that this article points out deals with the issues 1st and 1.5 generation U.S. Pilipin@ college students face. A huge part deals with literacy with respect to college admission, financial aid, and other resources and services available to those seeking higher education.  Within institutions of higher education, Prof. Buenavista points out that, American colleges do not consider the fact that parents of U.S. Pilipinos may have a college degree; however, they obtained it in a foreign country.  Thus, these parents do not have knowledge of American institutions of higher education and the culture of higher education with in the U.S.

 An issue that this article highlights is that although the parents of these U.S. Pilipin@s may be educated, their educational obtainments do not produces tangible benefits like higher income or jobs that are equivalent of their skills and education.  Pilipin@s who have obtained postsecondary degrees in the Philippines are underemployed. The term underemployment as framed by this literature is the inconsistency of a person’s job with their skills and educational attainment.  Thus, Pilipin@s with bachelor’s degrees from Philippine institutions of higher education do not typically obtained similar jobs as their American educated counterparts. Their underemployment in my opinion is a societal view of American employers with respect to Philippine educated individuals. Through underemployment of these particular Pilipin@s, we see a hierarchy with respect to where an individual gets their college degree. American degrees are revered as superior of their Philippine counterpart. Although, arguably, there is not tangible proof that a Philippine educated individual is less competent than their American counterpart; however, this underemployment of Philippine college graduate suggest this notion.

 From what I gathered from the article, as current college students in American institutions or as alumni of such institutions, we have this calling to aid our community. We as the Filipino American youth need to educate our community about accessing higher education. It should be one of the things we strive for, is to ensure that our fellow Pilipinos are able to access services and resources pertaining to higher education. Perhaps this is why I am such an avid advocate of programs and organizations, which work for the access, and retention of underrepresented communities in higher education.