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Purpose – For many African American college students, the pursuit of a college education has both rewards and risks. Oftentimes, African American students are faced with…
Purpose – For many African American college students, the pursuit of a college education has both rewards and risks. Oftentimes, African American students are faced with the decision to leave the comforts of their home communities in order to realize the American dream through the mechanism of higher education. The majority attend predominately White institutions (PWIs) where successful negotiation of this process not only has academic consequences, but psychological and cultural consequences as well. This chapter examines the psychological and phenomenological experience of African American students at PWIs of higher education.
Design/methodology/approach – The present day manifestation of historical and sociopolitical foundations of exclusion, racism, and discrimination in higher education are explored. There is a focus on how these latter themes relate to “campus culture” and institutions, with implications for psychological coping and educational success. Conclusions also focus on ways to begin to bring about change in this culture.
Findings – The successful negotiation of the collegiate environment, ultimately leading to the awarding of one's degree requires more than just passing classes; matriculation and retention in college also involves engaging one's social and cultural environment as well, particularly outside of the classroom.
Originality/value – As discussions of multiculturalism and inclusiveness in higher education find themselves anchored to abstract and theoretical conceptualization, or linked to an approach which focuses on “numbers” and “percentages” among student bodies, both of these approaches provide little indication that we are ultimately talking about the lived experiences of real people.