Black and Latino men graduate from college at the lowest rates of any demographic group. In EAB’s conversations with 50+ university leaders, we learned how uniquely challenging it is for Black and Latino men to find a sense of belonging in college. That’s because on campuses that are predominantly white and majority female, it’s harder for Black and Latino men to find peer groups, mentors, role models, and places where they can just be themselves.
While it’s important to support Black and Latino men throughout the entire student lifecycle, our research team found four moments when that support is especially critical for retention and graduation.
1. The first day on campus
The first day in college is an important day for all students. It’s the day when students get their first impression of college life and start to meet new friends. And if you’re a Black or Latino man, it can set an unwelcoming tone if you look around campus and don’t see anyone else who looks like you. We learned how two institutions help Black and Latino men feel welcome in those first few days:
2. Feeling homesick for the first time
This moment will feel familiar to many readers: it’s midway through your first term, you’re spending all your time studying for midterms, you haven’t really made friends yet, and you miss your family and friends back home. This time can be hard on mental health. Unfortunately, men of color are less likely to access mental health support than white men, and college men are less likely to have a therapist than college women. We heard about two ways universities can support Black and Latino men who are feeling homesick:
3. Realizing you might be in the wrong major
At least 30% of students change their major in college. For help with this tough decision, students often look to their mentors: Inside Higher Ed and College Pulse’s Student Voice survey found that 30% of mentees got help from their mentor in deciding on a major.
For Black and Latino men, finding a college mentor can be easier said than done. Many are looking for a mentor who shares their racial identity (31% of nonwhite students, according to the same Student Voice survey). And on campuses where students of color outnumber faculty of color, those faculty face an additional burden of uncompensated labor as mentors. We found two ways colleges can help:
4. Taking the next step after graduation
The last six to 12 months in college are another time of transition, as students finalize their plans for the first year after they graduate. Will the next step be a full-time job, an internship, a volunteer year, or grad school? Black and Latino men face not only these questions, but other ones too: will I encounter discrimination when I apply? And will any of my new peers or coworkers look like me?
Fostering Belonging for Black and Latino Men
Explore our compendium of studies on building a sense of belonging for Black and Latino male students on campus.