Black males who do well in college have parents — and at least one K-12 teacher — with high expectations, concludes the National Black Male College Achievement Study.
Black male achievers typically come from working-class families, concludes Shaun Harper, an associate professor higher education at Penn who founded the Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education. Nearly half have parents with no college degree. “As a group they shun the idea that they are cognitively smarter than their less-successful friends or cousins or other peers (and their high-school academic records largely back that up),” notes Inside Higher Ed.
In addition to parents who considered college a “non-negotiable” goal, and a teacher who took a special interest, achievers had adequate financial support to pay for college and support from black juniors and seniors when they started college.
Sixty percent grew up in homes with two parents. “Census data show that 35 percent of black children grow up in two-parent homes,” reports Inside Higher Ed.
Harper asked each of the 219 black men to talk not only about themselves but about the experiences of their three best black male childhood friends — and these differences virtually jump off the report’s pages.
“When asked what differentiated their own paths from those of their peers who were not enrolled in college, the participants almost unanimously cited parenting practices,” the study states. “Their friends’ parents, the achievers believed, did not consistently maintain high expectations and were not as involved in their sons’ schooling. By contrast, most of the achievers’ parents and family members more aggressively sought out educational resources to ensure their success — tutoring and academic support programs, college preparatory initiatives, and summer academies and camps, to name a few.”
Like the well-to-do parents in the preceding story, the black male achievers’ parents invested in their children’s success.