Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Differences between Black/African American and White College Students regarding Influences on High School Completion, College Attendance, and Career Choice

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Differences between Black/African American and White College Students regarding Influences on High School Completion, College Attendance, and Career Choice

Article excerpt

Compared with White persons, Black/African American persons in the United States continue to experience high rates of educational deficits and employment stagnation as well as lower college graduation rates. This study examined the influences on Black/African American and White college students' high school completion, college attendance, and career choice. Results indicate that future income and future status have a greater influence on the career choice of Black/African American college students than on the career choice of White college students. The authors discuss these findings and present implications for career development professionals.

A gap exists in the number of Black/African American and White students completing high school and college (Bauman & Graf, 2003; Stoops, 2004). According to the 2000 U.S. census, an estimated 14.3% of the Black/African American population 25 years and older has a baccalaureate degree, 42.5% has some college education, and 72.3% completed high school. In contrast, 26.1% of the White population 25 years and older has a baccalaureate degree, 54.1% has some college education, and 83.6% completed high school (Bauman & Graf, 2003). Additionally, the percentage of Black/African American persons and White persons in the resident population who have graduated from high school has remained unchanged within the last decade (Stoops, 2004).

Studies suggest that Black/African American students value the importance of earning high incomes and contributing to society (Hwang, Echols, & Vrongistinos, 2002; Hwang, Echols, Wood, & Vrongistinos, 2001; Lewis & Collins, 2001; Walpole, Bauer, Gibson, Kanyi, & Toliver, 2002). A study of Black/African American community college students by Teng, Morgan, and Anderson (2001) suggested that job security, a good starting income, autonomy, and an important position are more important to Black/African American students than to White students. The desire to serve others and the community is also a prominent theme in Black/African American culture. However, limited research exists that specifically investigates differences between Black/African American and White college students regarding the influence of future income, future status, and making a difference in society on high school completion, college attendance, and career choice. Additionally, Black/African American persons continue to experience high rates of educational deficits, employment stagnation, and poverty in the United States (Pope-Davis & Hargrove, 2001 ). We hope that investigating the influence of future income, future status, and making a difference in society will lead to implications beneficial in assisting Black/African American students in completing high school, attending college, and making a career choice.

Method

Participants

A total of 155 Black/African American and White college students at a major metropolitan university in the southeastern United States contributed data to this study. Black/African American college students composed 56.8% (n - 88) of the participants, and White college students represented 43.2% (n - 67) of the participants. There were 99 women (63.9%) and 56 men (36.1%). Their ages ranged from 18 to 35 years, with a mean age of 20 years.

Instrument

We designed a demographic questionnaire, a self-report measure that obtains demographic information from participants and informationrelated study variables. The questionnaire consisted of six demographic items and a table for participants to rate items that influence their decision to complete high school, attend college, and choose a career. Participants were asked to rate, on a 5-point Likert scale ( 1 - low influence, 5 - high influence), the level of influence that future income, future status, and making a difference in society had on their decision to complete high school, their decision to attend college, and their career choice. However, participants were provided only the prompt and not an operational definition of these variables. …

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