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A new study from the University of Pennsylvania looks at the factors that help young black men succeed in an education system that has historically failed them.

In a report based on the National Black Male College Achievement Study — the largest-ever qualitative research study of black undergraduate men — study author Shaun Harper, an associate professor of higher ed at Penn, highlights how some young African-American men are bucking the odds presented by low enrollment and high attrition.


The 219 students who participated in the study were enrolled in 42 colleges in 20 states and interviewed for two to three hours in individual interviews. The schools fell into six categories, including historically black public and private institutions and highly selective private — and historically white — universities.

These are the main factors that helped these young men succeed in higher education, according to Racism Review:

—Having at least one K-12 teacher who took a personal interest in their academic and personal future;

—Having adequate financial support to pay for college;

—Making a transition to college in which high expectations were set for them by influential black male juniors and seniors at their school.


In an interview, Harper said, "I am arguing for a much more intentional institutional strategy. Black male student success ought not to be serendipitous."

The factors that the study identifies as essential to success — teacher encouragement, financial support and positive peer influences — make sense to us.

View the study here.

Read more at Racism Review.

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