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Making Something Of It: The Untold Stories Of Promising Black Males At A Predominately White Institution Of Higher Education

Promising Black males are an understudied and underserved population in the field of higher education. The purpose of this study was to understand how promising Black males define academic success and to identify the factors that affect academic success at a large predominately White public institution of higher education located in the Northeast. The participants in this study are nine self-identified Black males who were not eligible to enter the Honors College upon admittance into the University, but were recruited to enroll in the Honors College following the completion of their freshmen year or were students that successfully enrolled into the Honors College after transferring from another college. The study implemented an inductive grounded theory methodology with interview data and data from an Academic and Personal Profile Assessment Form. The data were then transcribed and analyzed for major themes. The primary research questions that guided this study were: (1) How do Black male promising scholars define academic success? (2) What factors affect their academic success at a predominately White institution of higher education? The study found that participants define academic success by their grades, learning for the sake of learning, and the ability to transfer what they learn in the classroom into practical everyday life applications. Parents, mentors, peers, and community and professional oriented goals served as the primary influences in defining success for this population of students. The study also found that (1) Black males attributed a number of personal qualities possessed and study strategies incorporated for their academic success; (2) being Black was a salient social-identity; (3) there were several commonalities and distinctions among disaggregated Black ethnic-groups; (4) debunking stereotypes about Black males, high parental expectations to attend college, the hope of transforming negative situations into positive outcomes, and community-oriented responsibilities served as primary motivators for academic success; and (5) group-specific academic support programs were a significant contribution to the academic success for this group of students. Results from this study may be useful for practitioners, administrators, and faculty members within higher education institutions who are seeking to enhance the academic experiences of this population of students.
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