EDUCATIONAL PLANS BEYOND HIGH SCHOOL: NARRATIVES OF BLACK MALES' POSTSECONDARY DECISION-MAKING PROCESSES
Lee, Zakiya Shani Smith
McEwen, Marylu K
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The enrollment gap between Black male and female undergraduates began in 1960 and has grown significantly over the years. Although a gender gap exists for all racial/ethnic groups, more attention should be paid to one subgroup of men who are in the worst situation - African American men. The purpose of this study was to understand the influences on and processes by which Black males make decisions about pursuing a college education and searching for a college after high school graduation. Utilizing narrative inquiry methodology, data were collected through interviews, school records, and demographic questionnaires. Participants for this study were 10 12th grade and 1 11th grade Black males attending school in a Mid-Atlantic state. Data were analyzed using initial and focused coding, and the results were considered in relation to three theoretical frameworks, Hossler and Gallagher's (1987) Three Phase Model of College Choice, K. Freeman's (2005) model of African Americans in predisposition, and critical race theory (Delgado & Stefancic, 2001). Participants planned to attend college for financial advancement, career development, and personal growth. Findings suggest that parental encouragement is more influential than parental expectations, as participants whose parents were involved throughout their child's schooling had the clearest college plans. Although most participants did not identify finances as influential to their college decision making, all participants made cost-conscious decisions such as applying for scholarships and financial aid and staying close to home. The effect of low grades was strong and resulted in challenging search processes but did not affect predisposition. Social capital was influential in helping participants learn about college from those knowledgeable about college. Participants also indicated that the presence of career plans, long-term goals, patience, increased motivation and information, and the influence of family may increase the number of Black males enrolled in college. Implications address participants' late start on the college choice process and suggest a default college preparatory curriculum, more informed school personnel, and the standardization of college and career information sessions that will produce knowledgeable Black males who have postsecondary educational options that are not hindered by poor academic performance or lack of information.