African Americans Excelling in Higher Learning

Subject: Education
Pages: 10
Words: 2800
Reading time:
11 min
Study level: PhD


This paper provides an analysis of the reasons why African Americans excel in higher education compared to their counterparts. Recent studies show a significant improvement in the number of African American males enrolled in higher education compared to their counterparts. This paper refers to female African American and white Americans as counterparts. There have been concerns regarding this issue as addressed in this essay that contributed to a high number of African American students pursuing higher education in various institutions around the globe. This paper examines the reasons that make these students have higher chances to continue with their education beyond secondary schools. One of the reasons that contribute to this as discussed in this essay is a strong community with excellent leadership traits that acknowledge the value of learning in developing a society. This paper answers this query in an attempt to present its results. First, the paper explores the origin of this trait and whether it comes from peers, family or individuals. Second, it looks at the effects that have students’ origins on high school experiences and performance. In addition, it analyses the effects of ethnicity and racial traits and their influence on driving students to further their studies. The theoretical approaches used in this paper include the cognitive and non-cognitive aspects that influence learning, leadership and authority issues, as well as personality differences. Moreover, a cause and effect approach is involved to analyze the trends adopted by various groups in pursuing higher learning. This research adopts a mixed method research design and approach to collect, analyze and present its findings. Positive social changes are vital tools in ensuring more students (irrespective of their sex or color) further their studies past the high school level.

Problems that Prompted the Research

It is evident that there is a big gap between African American male students joining higher learning institutions of learning. It is evident that there is a problem within the community settings that lead to these disparities (Christenson 2012). Naturally, all students are expected to perform averagely when they study in the same environment. However, this has not been the case and there are concerns that there must be a problem somewhere that is causing all these differences (College Board 2010). A case study conducted in most American schools reveals that more African American male students proceed with their education beyond high school compared to a handful of white Americans.

A significant concern is that all these students are educated by the same teachers and use almost similar education curriculums (Cloud 2008). However, the greatest concern with regard to this issue is the fact that there seems to be a repeated pattern in the number of students that get admissions to higher learning institutions.

The previous analysis indicates a significant margin between African Americans and their counterparts. A research conducted between the periods of 1970-1980 showed that there were more white Americans in most learning institutions than today. There were more than 60 % of white Americans admitted to most higher learning institutions like colleges and universities.

However, this number has dwindled and this is a cause of alarm in American society. Fears continue to escalate as more African American students continue to enroll in most institutions (College Board 2010). It should be noted that they cannot be stopped from seeking admission to these institutions but the concerned stakeholders should convene urgent meetings to address these disparities among the whites and blacks.

Rationale of the Study

A research conducted in 2009 established that about 45% of white Americans and 37% of African Americans were enrolled in various institutions after completing their high school education. This figure is a cause for alarm since African Americans are considered to be a minority group in America and their enrollment should be much lesser than that of their counterparts. However, this statistics show that more African Americans are getting admission to higher institutions of learning if this figures are to be compared on the basis of population rations.

Ordinarily, it is expected that there must be more white Americans than African Americans since the indigenous community is presumed to have an upper hand in various communal activities. This paper is set to establish why these figures present different arguments to what is expected. Even though society should give everybody equal opportunities to exploit their talents and skills, this case presents ironic results. There is no way people from different regions can occupy another region and dominate most of the activities.

Even though, during this time a number of Georgian families were affected by financial crisis? and this was not an excuse for poor enrolment in higher learning institutions. Financial issues come to play if students come from poor families and have no prospects of advancing their education beyond secondary school. However, this case proves that there are other reasons that motivate students to pursue higher education apart from just financial issues. In addition, the survey conducted in these Georgian families gave a glimpse of the challenges that both families and students experience in their daily lives. Therefore, this had a general impact on the whole community and not just on the white Americans.

Therefore, this issue is off major concern to the researchers, community, students and governments involved (College Board 2010). There are growing concerns that as modernization spreads over remote regions, there are possibilities that African American students will dominate higher institutions of learning.

Literature Review

There were two parallel researches conducted to study students’ enrollment habits in higher learning institutions. It is important to note that these studies were focused on analyzing various issues that affect students’ enrollment and not differences in enrollment between students from different races (Britton 2008).

The first research identifies cultural issues as being responsible for a low rate of enrolment into universities and colleges. Thus, according to this research, African American students focus much on their cultural practices, such as hip hop celebrities that are role models to them. It is important to explain that while having celebrities as role models is not an issue, some behavior exhibited by celebrities does not promote a learning culture. For instance, celebrities whose ideologies are based on luck as a driving force of success or those who brag about how members of the opposite sex feel attracted to them are not good role models.

This study also exposes how young people adore their local celebrities and want to live like them. Unfortunately, not all of them could have become musicians and thus failure and desperation drove them to drugs. In addition, most high profile African Americans aspired to achieve high education as a way of showing off that they are capable of achieving academic excellence. There was a weird perception regarding the importance of higher education in the society.

The second research focused on parental influence in higher learning. Most white American parents teach their children that education gives them independency and the ability to use their talents to change their society, on the other hand, their counterparts are often taught that education is an opening to justice and power. This bred conflicts of interest between these two divergent groups led to a high number of school drop outs among the African American population.

However, this research aims at finding out the reasons that account for a higher number of African Americans enrolling in universities compared to their counterparts. Even though, all other mandatory aspects like finance and availability of schools remain constant, there is still a huge gap between these groups.

Bush and bush (2010) discussed gaps in terms of skills offered to both African American and white American in middle level colleges. They have expressed their concerns and argued that there are limited opportunities for these students to pursue higher education. Their study noted that most students attending tertiary learning institutions have difficulties transiting from secondary schools to universities. These institutions have limited learning development aspects that are essential in enhancing smooth transition to universities.

In addition, they offer technical training that is not offered in many universities and this becomes a serious limitation. However, the study noted that there was an increase in the overall number of students joining universities (Britton 2008). This trend is evident among different races and it is clear that African Americans continue to dominate this list. They further noted that there is a significant difference in performance in various subjects offered in these institutions. Most African Americans perform well in mathematics and sciences compared to their counterparts. In addition, they are becoming more persistent in studying science related courses compared to their counterparts that prefer languages and humanities.

They argue that this trend is observed since most students have their societies at the back of their minds when selecting their career courses. African Americans come from underdeveloped societies and thus need to study courses that will allow them to take off. On the other hand, white Americans perceive their society as already developed and require less technical expertise to manage various projects.

Implications of the Findings

The results obtained from this study will play a significant role in addressing various issues affecting learning and intercultural interactions. The data provided may be used to evaluate education systems and allow educators to form policies that reflect modern trends and accommodate diverse populations (Gasman 2008). Education systems are like societies and should be modified to reflect modern trends and also accommodate any changes in technology.

Teachers, parents, students and other stakeholders may find this information useful to ensure that there is adequate representation of all communities and not just a handful of students from a minority or majority group (Gasman 2008). In addition, it is necessary to state that governments may find this information useful in allocating resources and developing academic visions for the entire country. It is necessary to state that this information is not pertained to the area of study only but to all areas where education continues to be a serious challenge. In addition, nations that have vibrant education systems may also use this information to avoid and eliminate chances of this condition affecting them.

Students are the main subject of study in this project and this means the information collected affects their activities. Therefore, they may find this information useful when addressing challenges that hinder students from achieving university and college degrees (Gasman 2008). It is important to state that not all students admitted to higher institutions of learning complete their studies. Even though, majority of them succeed in completing their courses, some of them change those along the way while others drop out and join other illiterate members of the society.

Lastly, the community should know the reasons why African American students have many slots in universities compared to other students. The reasons for this may be beneficial in developing strategies that will ensure these figures continue to increase as more students join higher institutions of learning. Parents feel happy when their children attend schools and further their education beyond the secondary level. Therefore, they may find this information useful when planning the future of their children in terms of learning.


Vygotsky and Sternberg, in the Zone of Proximal Development and Socialized Instruction theories, explain how students’ achievements can be improved. They argue that human interactions play significant roles in character development and thus should be positive and reflect the society’s beliefs. Communication among human beings is supported by the use of artifacts that are language based including number systems, written languages, signs and symbols. Parental participation in learning and group studies is also crucial in helping students achieve good grades. Sternberg’s Triarchic Theory of Intelligence is a good way of explaining intelligences among students and it tries to explain the inherent nature of cleverness. Basically, intellectual behavior among students can involve getting used to their present environment.

Cognitive modification can occur in the region of proximal development given a communal purpose and focal point, but the collective environment of learning institutions is often futile (Cheney 2011). This is a major provision in the learning context. Even though, there have been widespread studies about this issue, it is imperative to consider the significance of additional research in this field. Obviously, this will assist in expounding more on the occurrence.

Vygotsky theory paid attention to interferences that engage learners in the simplest and most excellent ways to gain knowledge. In the same way, policy makers and academicians emerge as vital associates and stakeholders in the efforts to address guiding principles and academic issues that continue to spread this distinguished disparity (Cheney 2011). The need for effective policies and actions to control this inconsistency is largely well-known. It is essential to make university courses and their prospectus easy to get and easily adjustable.

Additional research is essential to offer information about the implications of policies and educational trends as reflected by various institutions.

Mixed Method Research Design and Approach

Mixed method research procedure will guide this study in the course most conducive to the subject’s environment (Claus-Ehlers 2008). Quantitative research method will make sure accurate data is collected with reference to the dimension of the dilemma. The outcome of the quantitative part will show the number of African American male students in a specific community excel or fail to attain higher education (Bush and Bush 2010). As much as qualitative feature of the research is concerned, the result will help provide a comprehensive analysis of participants’ history, aspirations, worries and enthusiasm.

In addition, this section of the research will help produce ideas concerning issues affecting African American male students and their educational achievements (Clark 2010). Therefore, these complete data will help in developing detailed educational procedures and programs which will deal with the problem at hand. For that reason, the mixed method used will effectively address all research questions formulated to help conduct this research. The integration of these methods will take place in all research stages that include collection of data, analysis and interpreting various findings. These methods include qualitative and quantitative analysis, quasi experimental design and the multivariate approach.

The Context and Sequential or Concurrent Strategies

A reconnaissance visit is essential for any research to be successful. There is the need to make a prior visit to the areas of study and if possible talk to the relevant authorities and inform them about the planned visit. This visit enables the researcher to identify with the participants, familiarize and understand basic issues about their culture and social activities (Bush and Bush 2010). It is important to state that all participants must be informed about the research and what is expected from them. This ensures everybody is prepared to take part in the research and thus sets a stage for a credible and successful research.

This is the basic procedure for gaining access to participants. In addition, there is the need to develop a work plan or schedule that will outline the activities of that day. Time is an essential part of the research process and should be used wisely. There is the need to prepare a program that will describe what happens at what time, with who, how and when. This ensures all participants have adequate time to participate in the research (Codington 2012). The researcher must have visited the place of study earlier to plan and familiarize with the participants. This will ensure the relationship between them is formal and allows the participants to play their roles without fear.


Even though the researcher may be an expert in conducting and analyzing research findings it is essential to state that some biases may arise during this processes. A good research must be objective and devoid of any personal feelings, preferences or opinions. The results must reflect the real picture as was obtained from the field. However, the following biases are likely to occur.


The literature review conducted before carrying out the research provided an insight into the disparities that exist between African American and white American male students. Most reviews highlighted cultural aspects as major causes of the failure to transit from secondary school to university among African Americans. Therefore, there are high chances that the researcher may be influenced by this perception and believe that they must be present during this study.

The area of study was very expansive and could not be covered within the time frame provided in the program of activities. There was the need to interview as many people as possible to collect different views. However, the sample population was too small and could not represent the entire region very well. In addition, there was the need to cover as many schools as possible but since they were located in different regions it was impossible to travel to all these parts within the short time available.


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Bush, E. & Bush, L. (2010). Calling Out the Elephant: An Examination of African American Male Achievement in Community Colleges. Journal of African American Males in Education, 1(1), 40-62.

Cheney, A. (2011). Teaching and Learning in 3D Immersive Worlds: Pedagogical Models and Constructivist Approaches. Hershey: Information Science Reference.

Christenson, S. (2012). Handbook of Research on Student Engagement. New York: Springer.

Clark, C. D. (2010). In A Younger Voice: Doing Child-Centered Qualitative Research: Doing Child-Centered Qualitative Research. California: Oxford University Press.

Claus-Ehlers, C. S. (2008). Encyclopedia of Cross-Cultural School Psychology. New York: Springer.

Cloud, J. I. (2008). Parenting the Guardian Class: Validating Spirited Youth, Ending Adolescence, and Renewing America’s Greatness. New York: Author House.

Codington, J. (2012). Special Education and the Mis-Education of African American Children: A Call to Action. New York: The Association of Black Psychologists.

College Board. (2010). Advanced Placement Report to the Nation. New York: College Board Publications.

Gasman, M. (2008). Understanding Minority-Serving Institutions. Albany: State University of New York Press.