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Low SES Black College Choice: Playing on an Unlevel Playing Field
Journal of College Admission
  • Michael J. Smith, Portland State University
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In an effort to present a more complete picture of college access and opportunity within the African American community, this study took a closer look at the college choice process for low socioeconomic status (SES) blacks. The participation of this group in college choice is important to consider because admission into college has become a high-stakes game (McDonough 1994) that they may not be prepared to play. It is important to understand the attitudes, perceptions and concerns low SES black parents have with respect to this important family event. As with other Americans, social class "matters" for blacks. Even though as a collective group African Americans share the common legacy of legalized and defacto discrimination, there are powerful, within-group social class differences that have resulted in completely different life trajectories. Could it be true in the college choice process? Do black students from higher SES groups have greater success in college access than black students from lower SES groups? These questions need to be considered in a contemporary ethnic and socioeconomic context so that African American students from low income and poor backgrounds are not abandoned in the new, competitive admission climate.

This is the publisher's final PDF. Originally published in the Journal of College Admission.

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Smith, M. J. (2001). Low SES Black college choice: Playing on an unlevel playing field. Journal of College Admission, Spring(171), pp. 16-21.