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Education and Urban Society

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Working poor -- United States, College choice -- Parent participation, African Americans -- Education (Higher), African American women -- Education (Higher), African American college students -- Social conditions


While research extols the benefits of parent involvement in college choice, low SES African American parents are increasingly less able to match the efforts of wealthier parents. A qualitative methodology is used to explore the lives 5 urban African American single parents whose low-SES parents encouraged education for postsecondary advancement. The study found that the high school diploma was the normative credential for upward mobility in their communities. Their parents used narratives of struggle to encourage their children while utilizing maps that helped navigate the road towards a high school diploma. It concludes that a high level of involvement already exists in these families albeit for different goals than those of mainstream America. It suggests that in order to convert postsecondary planning into college choice participation the Academy must assume that these parents want their children to use education to succeed, must bring them into college choice long before their children enter high school, and must simultaneously deliver critical college knowledge by co-constructing maps of all the necessary college preparatory protocols, college benefits, and a description of financial aid.


This is an author-produced, peer-reviewed article that has been accepted for publication in Education and Urban Society but has not been copy-edited. The publisher-authenticated version is available at

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