Navigating Higher Education As a DACA Recipient

Going through the different stages of one’s academic career is a period of growth and development in all areas. However, for many young DACA recipients, the road beyond this journey of self-discovery is one that will harbor unique obstacles to come.

With most immigrants and undocumented individuals, the fear of deportation and exposed legal status is a large concern; this fear and worry extends out to young DACA recipients as well and can result in deterrment from pursuing higher education or reaching out to different educational resources. Although the challenge of possibly risking one’s entire family future is very much a heavy weight to carry, this does not mean that college is completely out of the question. Some schools, such as the University of Houston located in Houston, TX, pride themselves on their diversity and in doing so are very welcoming to international and DACA students. They even offer programs and assistance specifically to those looking towards this academic transition. Looking towards local schools that offer DACA specific organizations, assistance, and even clubs can greatly aid in lessening the stress and provide motivation for growth and development.

It is also important to note the topic of disparities and how that impacts the decisions and difficulties that DACA recipients are faced with as students. While they may be aware of the options that are available to them, DACA students may also feel lost or insecure in terms of their socioeconomic identity fitting into a college setting. The convoluted process that is preparing and entering college does come with overwhelming costs such as application and testing fees on the rise, as well as some colleges not having a diverse student population. Given that most DACA students have a childhood background in a low-income community, usually within their own ethnic enclave,it is very daunting and sometimes discouraging. However, for many DACA students, there are fee waivers for college admission tests and application fees that do not require the disclosure of citizenship as well as assistance being offered through school programs dedicated to assisting underserved students in college exposure and preparation such as the AVID program.

It is important to remember that legal status does not define an individual by any means. The possibility to grow from adversity and achieve success in one’s own way is very possible whether it be graduating from high school, community college, a state university, or vocational school. Our DACA students are on the rise and shining brighter than ever representing the strength and beauty in culture.