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Knowledge From the Field

Black Male Student Success in Higher Education: A Report From the National Black Male College Achievement Study

Published: February 2012

Publisher(s): Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education at University of Pennsylvania

Author(s): Harper, Shaun R.

Funder(s): American College Personnel Association, Lumina Foundation for Education, National Academic Advising Association, National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, Penn State Children, Youth and Families Consortium, Penn State University Africana Research Center, Penn State University College of Education

View Report (32 pages; 828KB; PDF)

Area of Focus: College and Career Preparation


The report presents insights from interviews with successful male African-American college students and highlights factors that helped them succeed in a range of contexts: getting to college, choosing colleges, paying for college, transitioning to college, matters of engagement, and responding productively to racism.

Key Findings and/or Recommendations

=The majority of Black male achievers had non-negotiable expectations that they would pursue postsecondary education; most had parents who consistently maintained high expectations and were involved in their schooling, although nearly half came from homes where neither parent had attained a bachelorís degree.

=Participants believed they were successful in college because they got off to a good start (through summer bridge programs or the assistance of Black male student leaders who helped the transition to college life) and because of engaging experiences outside of the classroom (causing them to waste less time, interact frequently with academically-driven others, and develop relationships with faculty).

=Participants were not exempt from racism, stereotypes, and racial insults, and many became skilled at educating their peers through thoughtful questioning of misconceptions.

Focus: National

Subjects/Keywords: African American; Black; College; Completion; Degree; Higher Education; Male; Postsecondary Education; University

+ Successful strategy
= Observation
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