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Abstract

The intention of this article is to gain an in depth understanding of immigrants' experiences and their encounters with institutions of higher education, focusing on the nature of academic barriers and students' coping strategies in response to them. The situation of undocumented students, both in and out of universities, will receive special attention. Findings are based on a 2006 survey of a convenience sample of 149 students, both immigrant and non-immigrant, at two universities in Boston, Massachusetts, one public and one private. The sample included 106 females and 43 males; 27 students classified themselves as racial minorities. All but seven of the students were between the ages of 18 and 24. Eleven questions, some closed and some open ended, probed their experiences as, or with, immigrant students in the college classroom, especially the issue of immigrant students' inclusion and sense of belonging in the universities in question. In addition, the author interviewed five professors located at both universities to probe their understanding of immigrant students, and effective ways of teaching them at their institutions. The conclusions offer several recommendations for how university professors can become more accommodating and welcoming to immigrant students, and how they might improve their success in university study. Lastly, the author relies in the explanations on some of her own experiences as a first-generation Brazilian immigrant who has earned bachelors and masters degrees in the United States and is currently enrolled in a Ph.D. program in Sociology at Boston University.

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