Academic journal article Negro Educational Review

College Choice for Black Males in the Community College: Factors Influencing Institutional Selection

Academic journal article Negro Educational Review

College Choice for Black Males in the Community College: Factors Influencing Institutional Selection

Article excerpt


In this study we examined the college choice process for Black males attending community colleges. Using data from the Educational Longitudinal Study, findings indicated that Black males who attend community colleges select their institutions based upon having a degree in their chosen field, the coursework/curriculum, job placement record, availability of financial aid, and academic reputation. Independent t-tests indicated Black males were more likely than four-year collegians to select an institution based upon the desire to live at home, for the school's easy admissions policies, for the school being the same as one attended by the parent, and the school's acceptance of college credit. After controlling for potentially mitigating factors, we found that students attended community colleges that placed greater importance on low expenses, the academic reputation of the institution, the school's easy admissions, and the school's acceptance of college credit. Recommendations for further research are extended.


Every year, Black male high school seniors from around the nation make important decisions about their post-high school futures. During this period, many determine whether or not they will attend college. For non-college bound students, many will enlist into the armed forces or enter directly into the workforce (Nevarez & Wood, 2010). For those students who decide that college is the most appropriate path, they must determine what type of institution they will attend. For those Black males attending public colleges, the selection of post-secondary institutions is overwhelmingly in favor of community colleges (also referred to as public two-year colleges), where 70.5% of them will enroll. In contrast, only 28.5% will attend public fouryear colleges and universities2 (BPS, 2009).

It has been asserted by Bush (2004), that Black males attend community colleges to secure economic, political, and social mobility. For these students, the community college represents their first and likely last effort to obtain a postsecondary degree (Bush & Bush, 2004, 2005, 2010). Unfortunately, beyond these general assertions, little empirical evidence (if any) exists which delineates why Black males attend community colleges as opposed to four-year institutions. Extant literature on the overall community college student population illustrates that academically challenged students capitalize on the "open-door" policies of community colleges whereby prior educational performance is not taken into consideration in admission (Cohen & Brawer, 2003; Nevarez & Wood, 2010). These students utilize community colleges as an opportunity to "restart" their educational careers. In contrast, high achieving high school students also attend community colleges; many of these students capitalize on low-cost educational programming to complete their general education requirements for transfer (Laanan, 2003; Lee, 2011). Still yet, some students, academically qualified or otherwise fail to take the necessary steps for four-year college enrollment such as completion of assessment exams, and as a result, attend community colleges (Hebert, 2001).

Scholars have noted the importance of investigating college enrollment decision-making factors. In particular, they advocate for an understanding of how decision-making differs based upon racial affiliation for students' selection of two- and four-year institutions (Pema, 2002; Kurlaender, 2006). Further, research has also noted that the college choice process differs by racial affiliation (Lee, 2011). The intersection of race, ethnicity, and gender in relationship to the college selection process was the primary focus of our study. With this in mind, we investigated variables that influence Black male students' decisions to attend public two-year versus public four-year institutions. Our research provides an enhanced understanding of the drivers which impact Black male students' post-secondary selections, providing insight on the role that interests (e. …

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