Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


School of Education


Leadership Studies


Organization & Leadership EdD

First Advisor

Desiree Zequera

Second Advisor

Genevieve Negrón-Gonzales

Third Advisor

Susan Katz


The San Joaquin Valley in Central California is known as an abundant agricultural epicenter with an extensive history of farming, migration, and political movements. Though this geography holds a rich representation of agricultural economy, it is also the site of major inequalities and underrepresentation, especially with regard to post-secondary education within its overrepresented Latinx population. Further amplifying the inequalities around post-secondary education and Latinx’s is the increasing occurrence of post-secondary enrollment into for-profit institutions by this population. Inequities associated with for-profit enrollment, such as high student loan debt and lack of career attainment, further stratify this geography classified as being in a state of poverty and having low post-secondary education (United States Census Bureau, 2018), when compared with surrounding areas. This qualitative study sought to examine the factors that that led Latinx students to enroll into for-profit institutions, as well as understand how differentiating inequities from their experiences affected their decision-making processes. Furthermore, the study sought to examine what these institutions offered or promised these individuals that subsequently led them to their enrollment choice. Utilizing a phenomenological methodology, the findings of this research demonstrated several key areas including: an overarching parental focus on labor; a limit of public-sphere secondary and post-secondary counseling support; a competitive market of for-profit institutions within the geography; and a disillusionment by for-profit institutions. I conclude that existential inequities found within this geography act as malignant spaces for predatory propriety institutions to thrive within. As a result, these institutions thrive on the circumstances of underserved populations, subsequently stratifying and increasing these inequities via financial debt and career shortfalls. Areas for continued needed research and recommendations for practice are discussed.

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