One factor that can help determine black men's college success

Apr 09, 2013 by Jeff Grabmeier

Beyond good test scores and high school grades, a new study finds one key factor that helps predict if a young black man will succeed at a predominantly white university.

That factor is "grit" – a dedication to pursuing and achieving a goal, whatever the obstacles and failures along the way.

Grit is so important that it was found to affect grades for black men almost as much as high school GPA and ACT scores, said Terrell Strayhorn, author of the study and associate professor of educational studies at The Ohio State University.

"For many black men, talent and high school success are not the only things they need to succeed when they attend a predominantly white university."

"Despite where they begin in terms of college readiness, who show more grit than their peers earn better grades in college."

The study appears online in the Journal of African American Studies and will be published in a future print edition.

These findings are important, Strayhorn said, because they identify a way that educators and parents can make a real difference in improving college graduation rates for black men - especially since graduation from college depends, in part, on earning high enough grades to meet university academic standards.

Today, about two-thirds of black men who enter college leave before completing their degree – the highest attrition rate among all races and both sexes.

"You can't change where a student grows up, or the quality of the high school he attended. But grit is something that can be taught and instilled in young men and it will have a real effect on their success," Strayhorn said.

The study involved 140 black who were enrolled full time at a large, predominantly white public university. Most were first-generation college , reflecting the fact that ethnic minorities are disproportionately represented among those who are first in their family to attend college.

The students took an eight-question measure of grit that has been successfully used in many settings, including with cadets at West Point.

Participants rated how much they agreed with statements like "I have overcome setbacks" and "I finish whatever I begin."

Strayhorn compared the students' responses on these questions to their grades in college, which were provided by university officials.

Strayhorn also had a wide range of demographic information on the students, including grades and scores on the standardized ACT test that is used as a college entrance exam.

Results showed that grittier black males earned higher grades in college than their less-gritty peers – even after taking into account a variety of factors that may affect grades, such as prior achievement, age, year in school, transfer status, how engaged they are in university activities and their degree aspirations.

"Even if they are talented and have shown past academic success, some black men may not succeed in college, and those are often the ones who show less grit," Strayhorn said.

"The ability to persevere in the face of obstacles is a key to college success for ."

Strayhorn said he believes grit can also help students from other groups succeed, including whites and women, and those who attend other kinds of institutions, such as historically black colleges.

But grit may be more important for black males at predominantly white universities than it is for other groups.

"The environment at predominantly white institutions can be very different from the cultural backgrounds from which some black males come," he said.

"So these students not only have to deal with the academic demands, but work around the social differences that are dramatically different from where they grew up."

Strayhorn said he hopes that colleges and universities will develop programs that specifically work to develop grit in students, like black males, who are at-risk for academic failure.

"You can teach grit. I can imagine intense summer programs, almost like academic boot camps, that teach young people how to manage stress, balance demanding tasks over time, and how to cope with academic failure," Strayhorn said.

"These students need to learn resilience, how to maintain focus on their goals even when they fail a test or have some other setback academically or personally. I think that can make a real difference, especially for those who may experience challenges or setbacks."

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User comments : 6

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daggoth
4.4 / 5 (7) Apr 09, 2013
Grit applies to everyone...so I fail to see what they're trying to prove.
geokstr
2.3 / 5 (7) Apr 09, 2013
A couple other things would help immensely as well:

1) Avoid "black" and other victim studies, which would only further inculcate the harmful philosophy of victimology that has been fed to them throughout their formative years, and also prepares them for nothing in their future careers but resentful work attitudes and lawsuits against the Man.

2) Diversity has been touted as the be-all and end-all of education at all levels, mostly to get the whites to accept the blacks by force of law. For blacks themselves, however, to diversify their peer group beyond others of their own melanin content would allow them to avoid falling further into the victim trap, by seeing and emulating the attitudes and behaviors allow whites and Asians to succeed in the real world.
freethinking
2 / 5 (10) Apr 09, 2013
As a young black man, you are taught by progressives in public schools that your failure isn't your fault.
As a young black man, the main stream progressive black culture says you can do what you want, when you want.
As a young black man, progressives keep telling you, you need help, that you are oppressed, and that it is the white folk who are keeping you down.
As a young black man, you probably don't have a father or any good male role model present.

As a young black man, if you want to succeed, you need to throw off the shackles of slavery which progressives have ensnared you with. If you want to succeed you need to take on the freedom which comes from conservative thought and discipline.
Dr_toad
Apr 09, 2013
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
freethinking
1.6 / 5 (7) Apr 10, 2013
Progressives are the racists. I would hire someone who identifies themselves as an American who happens to have black skin, over someone who identifies themselves as an African American. Why? Because I judge people by their character. Progressives judge people by there sexuality, political correctness, and skin color.

Conservatism is a positive belief system which teaches character, respect, love, grit. The reason it is derided by progressives is because progressives hate people of integrity, hate people of positive character, hate truth.

Progressives love victims, love haters, love bullies, love the lazy and the slothful. Just look at those who vote Progressive, or who support progressives. People with black skin failing IS because of the black community being enslaved by Progressive thought.
Dr_toad
Apr 10, 2013
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Dr_toad
Apr 10, 2013
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
freethinking
1 / 5 (6) Apr 10, 2013
Planned Parenthood was created to control the numbers of inferior races, esp. Blacks.

The KKK was an arm of the Democrats.

It was a Abraham Lincoln was a republican.

Progressives, from Hitler to Stalin, were racists.

An honest question, can anyone provide a name of a current famous progressive who is not a racist, who believe peoples should be judged by their character?
zaxxon451
1 / 5 (2) Apr 14, 2013
As a young black man, you are taught by progressives in public schools that your failure isn't your fault.
As a young black man, the main stream progressive black culture says you can do what you want, when you want.
As a young black man, progressives keep telling you, you need help, that you are oppressed, and that it is the white folk who are keeping you down.
As a young black man, you probably don't have a father or any good male role model present.

As a young black man, if you want to succeed, you need to throw off the shackles of slavery which progressives have ensnared you with. If you want to succeed you need to take on the freedom which comes from conservative thought and discipline.


The Republican outreach to minorities seems to be going well. President Hillary Clinton appreciates the support.