Persistence Among African American Males in the Honors College

Johnell Roxann Anderson Goins, University of Southern Mississippi


Retaining African American students, specifically African American males, is an issue that plagues the American higher education system. Research shows that African American male students are the lowest represented group in the gifted studies programs (Ford, 2010). Lockie and Burke (1999); Chen and DeJardins (2010) and Bell (2010a) found that barriers to African American male retention in higher education include but are not limited to the following: financial assistance, the battle of the two-self concept, lack of mentoring/advising, low expectations from faculty, and alienation. In an effort to remove these barriers, institutions have implemented retention strategies such as more faculty mentoring and retention programs.

The purpose of this qualitative study was to investigate the reported experiences of African American males enrolled in the Honors College; specifically, gathering information regarding academic and non-academic factors that impact their motivation to persist. Employing empirical phenomenology, the researcher interviewed 12 African American males from Predominantly White Institutions (PWI) in the southeastern region. The researcher ultimately determined that participation in the Honors College did not affect the males’ motivation to persist in college and only affected a few males who were persisting in the Honors College.