Post-Secondary Education Decisions of High School Black Males in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands (A Case Study)

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Virginia Tech

This study sought to understand the perspectives of young Black males toward post-secondary education. A qualitative case study research design was selected because it allowed the researcher to examine in a holistic fashion the complexities of how the issues of school, home, community, and peers function in the life of a young Black male in St. Thomas, USVI; and how these issues in his life yield a perspective on and a decision about participating in higher education.

A case study using taped interviews and observations of one high school Black male and his mother was conducted. Data were analyzed using Ethnograph and a coding matrix based on the tenets of grounded theory. The findings showed that the young man was ambivalent about the educational process and about his plans concerning his preparation for the future. In high school he saw three options: enlisting in the military, engaging in full-time employment, or pursuing a college education at the University of the Virgin Islands as long as he could achieve success. He viewed all three paths as equal. His family's influence had a profound impact on his decision to participate in advanced education despite his lack of commitment and his underachieving high school career.

The educational issues in the territory signal the need for territorial policy makers to initiate educational improvements in the public schools and to mandate, at the university level, an information and recruitment program for young males to improve the demographics of post-secondary education in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Recommendations for further research are offered.

St. Thomas, USVI, Black Males, Education Decisions