Investigating Supports and Barriers Affecting Black Students’ Enrolment and Experiences within Graduate Studies

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Yusuf, Mohamed
Black Graduate Students , Mentorship , Supports , Barriers
The goal of this research study was to identify and examine the supports and barriers affecting Black students’ enrolment and experiences within graduate studies. Using a qualitative approach, I focused on the lived experience of N = 10 current Black graduate students attending universities located in Southern Ontario. Using a deductive approach, this study utilized the theoretical and conceptual framework which locates mentorships as the main form of support, and Socio-economic Status (SES) as the main Barrier when considering the enrolment and experiences of Black students into graduate studies (LeBlanc, 2016; Walpole, 2003). Each of the participants took part in a 30–45-minute semi-structured interview, and we asked about their overall graduate studies experience, along with which support and Barrier they found during the enrolment process, and throughout the course of their degree. Results derived from thematic analysis focusing on participants' support revealed two main themes: 1) relationships with individuals, and 2) university community bonds. These themes provided further analysis, which paved the way for the development of sub-themes. Relationships with individuals provided three additional subthemes: 1) relationships with their mentor, 2) relationships with their friends and peers, and 3) relationships of kinship. While university community bonds provided its own three additional sub-themes: 1) race/ethnic based student groups 2) university athletics, and 3) diversity within the program/university. Meanwhile results focusing on participants’ barriers revealed two main themes: 1) being a First-Generation Student (FGS), and 2) financial considerations, which was further split into the sub-themes of Graduate Funding Packages (GFPs) and SES (Participant and Participant Family). Furthermore, concepts such as Advice to Younger Students, and Conceptual Duality were also discussed, in addition to limitations and future research.
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