“Difficult Yet Rewarding”: The Experiences of African American Graduate Students in Education at an Ivy League Institution

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Abstract

This paper focuses on the experiences of African American students enrolled in a graduate program at an Ivy League institution, specifically those pursuing master's and doctoral degrees in the field of education. With a goal of helping to improve the persistence, retention, and success rates of African American graduate students, this study seeks to understand the following questions: What has been the nature of the graduate school experience for African American students in the field of education at an Ivy League institution? What types of support do African American students have for succeeding in graduate school at an Ivy League institution? And finally, how are African American graduate students socialized for future faculty and professional roles at an Ivy League institution? Specifically, the authors use socialization theory to analyze the experiences of African American graduate students and draw their results from a qualitative survey. Overall, themes regarding the significance of mentoring and advising, peer support, academic isolation, financial stress, and spirituality were most prevalent in the survey results.

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