Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education
Mentors Are Key to Getting Black Students to College, Study Says
Astrong relationship with a teacher, counselor, or administrator in high school can help propel students to college or other postsecondary education, according to a new report from ACT. Research shows that African American students, however, are less likely than their White peers to develop the type of bond with an adult at a school that facilitates college-going.
The report suggests this gap in forming relationships may be one reason why African American students are not attending college at the same rate as their White peers, despite the fact that most African American high school students say they want and expect to further their education after graduation.
"We've won the battle on motivation -- African American students, by and large, know they need to go to college and expect to go," says George L. Wimberly, an ACT research associate and author of the report. "Many, however, are still not going."
The findings of the report indicate that a strong relationship with at least one adult (teacher, counselor, administrator, etc.) in high school can help to increase a student's expectation and desire to continue his or her education after graduation.
"Adult mentors in the schools can help to instill the value of education in students," Wimberly says. "They can also provide students with information on college admission, financial aid and postsecondary options and give them guidance on courses that will help them to achieve their goals."
The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) recommends that every high school student have a mentor, or "Personal Adult Advocate," to help personalize the education experience.
The ACT study reveals no clear reasons to explain why African American students are less likely than their White peers to develop this type of bond with an adult mentor in high school. According to Wimberly, one possible explanation could be that cultural, social, and/or economic gaps are more likely to exist between African American students and school personnel than between White students and school personnel. These gaps may get in the way of developing the type of personal relationship that facilitates college-going. …