College retention, persistence, and success levels continue to be lower for students of color, first-generation students, and low-income students compared to the White majority. This study, focusing on African American males from Philadelphia, set out to investigate the challenges that young, urban, low-income, and first-generation students face in their transition to and enrollment in institutions of post-secondary education. To accomplish this goal, the study at hand focused on two primary questions:
RQ 1: What tools do young Black first-generation college students who go to school in and around their city of origin utilize in order to gain entry to institutions of post-secondary education and successfully transition to these institutions?
RQ 2: How are young Black first-generation college students who go to school in and around their city of origin able to successfully navigate academic obligations and social responsibilities in their first year of college?
To answer these questions, a qualitative research study was designed, and six young men fitting the criteria above were interviewed over the course of their first year of college. In total, each student participated in four interviews. Additionally, participants submitted their college entrance essays and personal statements, which were reviewed to confirm their narratives and coded for themes. Finally, college counselors for the non-profit that assisted each young man in his college planning were interviewed. These interviews focused on the counselor’s perception of success at the post-secondary level, and the ways that their non-profit could assist students. Student engagement theory, paired with a Critical Race paradigm, served as the primary theoretical lens through which data were analyzed. Additionally, literature on student resilience and self-efficacy was used to inform the interpretation of the data.
Key findings include: the significance of family support during a student’s transition to college, the myriad ways that a student’s intersecting identities play a role in the collegiate experience, and the importance of engaging in campus life to form strong support networks and succeed academically. The young men of this study faced myriad challenges in the journey towards a college degree. From complex family relationships, to navigating stigma surrounding their identities, the obstacles facing these men are great. However, through forming a network of campus connections and using their past challenges to inform future decisions, the young men of this study are resisting stereotypes and pursuing their goals. Developing resilience and self-efficacy through self-reflection, vicarious experiences of trusted mentors and family members and supportive peer networks has and will continue to allow the young men of this study to achieve their goals.
|Advisor:||Jordan, Will J.|
|Commitee:||Davis, James E., Sahu, Subir, Schifter, Catherine S.|
|School Location:||United States -- Pennsylvania|
|Source:||DAI-A 79/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||African American Studies, Black studies, Educational sociology, Education Policy, Higher education|
|Keywords:||African American, College access, First-generation, Higher education, Retention, Urban education|
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