Date of Award

Spring 5-17-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling and Psychological Services

First Advisor

Gregory Brack, Ph. D.

Second Advisor

Gabriel Kuperminc Ph. D.


The lack of educational attainment among Latino youth, as evidenced by high school dropout rates, is a growing and costly problem that affects not only Latinos but society as a whole. Using a sample of 139 middle school Latino students, primarily of Mexican descendant, the current study used cluster analysis to identify a typology of students based on their educational aspirations, expectations, and perceived academic competence. Three distinct profiles emerged: a college-bound-congruent group with college aspirations and similar college expectations, and high academic confidence; a college-bound-incongruent group with college aspirations but vocational expectations, and medium academic confidence; and a vocational-bound congruent group with vocational or technical school aspirations and similar expectations, and low academic confidence. Students’ relationship with teachers was a factor that helped differentiate students across the different profiles. Relationships with parents and peers were not. Students’ gender, immigration status, and ethnic identity did not contribute to the differences in profiles. The findings suggest that future educational profiles of middle school Latino students are an important component of a comprehensive “early warning system” that could help identify students who may be at risk of dropping out school.