The Evolving Challenges of Black College Students: New Insights for Policy, Practice, and Research

By Echoles, Derrick R. | College Student Affairs Journal, Spring 2011 | Go to article overview

The Evolving Challenges of Black College Students: New Insights for Policy, Practice, and Research


Echoles, Derrick R., College Student Affairs Journal


The Evolving Challenges of Black College Students: New Insights for Policy, Practice, and Research, edited by Terrell L. Strayhorn and Melvin C. Terrell The Evolving Challenges of Black College Students: New Insights for Policy, Practice, and Research, edited by Terrell L. Strayhorn and Melvin C. Terrell, Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, 2010, 226 pages, $29.95 (paperback).

Over the past few decades, colleges and universities have seen an increased number of Black collegians in the United States. With the increased number of Black collegians enrolling in these institutions, colleges and universities face challenges with the creation of supportive environments that fully embrace these students' presences on their campuses. Enrolling Black collegians is not enough, but supporting them during their matriculation, as well as with out-of-class experiences are increasingly important as more of these students are likely to drop or fail out if they are not properly supported and enter campuses unprepared.

In their book, The Evolving Challenges of Black College Students: New Insights for Policy, Practice, and Research, Strayhorn and Terrell 's careful research addresses challenges that both predominantly White and historically Black colleges and universities can address to help Black collegians matriculate, graduate at higher success rates, and feel supported while enrolled. In particular, Strayhorn stated, "Despite progress in African American students' enrollment in college, national trends suggest that Black collegians continue to confront arguably unique obstacles and Stressors in educational settings, especially predominantly White institutions (PWIs)" (p. 1). For this reason, it is imperative that higher education institutions utilize research that this book provides to assist Black collegians during their years away at college. Consequently, the research provided in this book will aid Black collegians in their persistence towards earning a baccalaureate degree. This book consists of 14 contributing scholars and practitioners in higher education including men, women, and doctoral students from both Black and White ethnic backgrounds. Additionally, the book contains 1 1 chapters that provide practical recommendations that assist college student educators in fashioning policies that smooth Black students' transitions in and through higher education (Strayhorn, 2010); creating new or expanding existing programs and services that provide the necessary academic, social, and financial support; and fostering conditions that matter for student success (Kuh, Kinzie, Schuh, & Associates, 2005).

The first chapter examines the importance of spirituality in lives of Black collegians. Stewart stated, "Spirituality serves multiple purposes in the lives of Black college students" (p. 1 1 ). Consequently, Stewart found that spirituality is important because it helps Black collegians persist in the college environment, cope with different cultural norms and expectations, and resist demeaning and oppressive views and structures through spiritual framework.

The second chapter is a reflection of 28 Black women from a larger study on this group's decision to attend college. The women viewed attending college as a life or death decision because they saw it as a way out of their unstable and violent home environments. The students felt if they went to college, they would be able to succeed in life while not attending college meant various forms of "death" including life-threatening environments and/or unwanted, minimum-wage jobs. As a result, attending college can have a monumental effect in the lives of first-generation Black women. Considering the evidence presented in this chapter, attending college was these students motivation to succeed because they did not want to return to the life they once had. Therefore, higher education institutions must proactively work with Black collegians to foster a stable and comfortable environment that helps them feel welcomed and supported. …

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