Undocumented students’ experiences with microaggressions during their college choice process

Despite years of research on microaggressions, relatively little is known about how undocumented students experience episodes of microaggressions during their college choice process. Microaggressions are cumulative discriminatory acts delivered to marginalized groups via verbal, nonverbal, and environmental insults (Sue, 2010; Sue et al., 2007). Guided by Sue and colleagues’ (2007) and Sue’s (2010) microaggressions research, we analyzed the experiences of 15 undocumented immigrants who graduated from public high schools in New York City, and we identified nine types of microaggressions they encountered during their college choice process. Additionally, we extended Sue’s (2010) research on microaggressions to include and explain how undocumented students have experienced such episodes in their college choice process. Our research revealed incidents in which undocumented immigrants faced overt and multiple microaggressions in their college choice journeys, often delivered by seemingly well-intentioned institutional agents. We conclude with implications for future research on microaggressions in undocumented students’ college choice process and recommendations for practice in promoting college enrollment of undocumented students.

Nienhusser, H. K., Vega, B. E., & Saavedra Carquin, M. C. (2016). Undocumented students’ experiences with microaggressions during their college choice process. Teachers College Record, 118(2), 1-33.

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