SECTION II: How Can Educators Help?

Although Dream students face obstacles in their pursuit of higher education, there are many ways you can help them be successful.

Below are some suggestions (adapted from the Journal of College Admissions, 2010):

  • Use the term “Dream student” to refer to those students who are undocumented. Avoid terms such as “illegal” and “alien”. Familiarize yourself with the information in Section I.
  • Include information and resources for DACA and undocumented students on your website, on informational materials you hand out, and in presentations you give to all students and parents. Students and their parents may be afraid to talk about their immigration status and may not know the implications of their status on the college process. Make it clear they can talk to you.
  • Remember, many of our Dream students are not Latino and not in ELL classes – keep an open mind!
  • Familiarize yourself with the laws in your state and keep abreast of immigration reforms.
  • Tell undocumented students they can go to college, but they will need to do additional research to determine what options are open to them. Educate yourself about what resources are available and share these resources with students and their families.
  • Encourage Dream students to take Dual Enrollment classes when available. Earning these college credits while in high school can save them a lot of money in college and help them complete a degree faster.
  • Work with these students to find scholarships that don’t require citizenship or permanent residency, including the Dream Project Scholarship.
  • Work closely with these students throughout the college search, application, and selection process. Do not just give them information and assume they can navigate the process on their own.
  • Try to find older Dream students, mentors, and/or community programs (such as the Dream Project mentoring program) that work with Dream students to give them additional support.
  • Advocate on behalf of these students with admissions representatives and other connections you may have at colleges.


Talking to Undocumented Students about
Sensitive Subjects

by Katharine Gin

What NOT to Say What to Say
Going to college isn’t really an option for you. Going to college is going to be difficult for you, but it is possible. Thousands of other talented, hard-working undocumented students have already graduated from college.
You’re not going to be able to get any money for college. You’re not eligible for most forms of government financial aid. However, you might be eligible for in-state tuition, and there are some private scholarships you can apply for.
Why don’t you just legalize? Have you talked to an immigration attorney to find out if you can legalize? There may be immigration remedies that you and your family don’t know about already.
Even if you get a college degree, you’re never going to be able to work legally. Getting a college degree isn’t going to change your immigration status, but it will open up many opportunities for you once you’re able to legalize. The DREAM Act is a proposed federal bill that will give many undocumented students a path towards citizenship if they graduate from high school and go on to college. Because of strong bipartisan support in Congress and support from President Obama, the DREAM Act is very likely to pass in the near future.
Why don’t you go back home and get a degree? If you have family and connections in another country outside the United States, it might make sense for you to consider pursuing educational opportunities elsewhere. Remember, however, that you would be separated from your family in the U.S., and you could be barred from returning for 10 years.
In order to apply to college, you’re going to have to reveal everything. In order to apply to college, you’re going to have to be honest about your immigration status. At first this may seem scary to you and your family. Remember that federal law (specifically FERPA) will protect your privacy and prevent colleges from releasing your information unless under court order.

College Board: Advising Undocumented Students

Educators for Fair Consideration Educator Guides

Center for American Progress report: Removing Barriers to Higher Education for Undocumented Students

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