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    Counseling and Counseling Psychology: Increasing Enrollment of African American Males in Graduate Programs
    9. Counseling and Counseling Psychology: Increasing Enrollment of African American Males in Graduate Programs

    The fourth CGS Peterson’s grant was awarded to faculty members in Counseling and Counseling Psychology. Graduate training programs in both counseling and psychology programs acknowledge the need for increased enrollment of ethnic minority students in their ranks. The American Counseling Association and the American Psychological Association articulate a belief that diversity is a fundamental component of training in the 21st century. Yet there remains a paucity of African American males in these programs. There currently exists an increasing body of much needed research related to recruiting and retaining African American males into various undergraduate programs (Pluvoise, 2006). However, the doctoral programs in Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology have recently experienced an increase in African American males. Therefore, the recipients of the CGS/Peterson’s grant used their award to conduct research using focus groups composed of African American males to identify possible solutions to the perceived challenges of recruiting and retaining African American male students.




    The focus group was composed of six African American male graduate students who were enrolled in the Counseling or Counseling Psychology program. The participants were interviewed in an effort to learn the components related to their selecting their doctoral programs at the University of Memphis. The participants ranged in age from 22 to 36. Three of the participants (David, age 25; Karl, age 32; and Brad age 36) were married, and three were single (Ken, age 27; James, age 34; and George, age 32). Five participants in the study were actively involved within their ethnic community. One participant, Brad, was the recipient of a graduate assistantship.


    The study was conducted using the grounded theory method developed by Glaser ([1978] as cited in Rennie & Brewer, 1987). An initial interview was conducted, analyzed, and categorized. A follow-up interview was then arranged to further explore themes or questions that arose during the initial interview. Two trained raters were used to code responses into themes. Coded responses were periodically compared to determine inter-rater reliability.


    In response to the questions, Karl and Brad stated that they felt students were essentially left to their own devices in terms of identifying financial aid resources. Brad stated that “identifying graduate assistantships and or other financial resources was an ongoing challenge.” James stated his belief that finances were a concern for most students, but especially students of color, while David articulated that “financial aid is crucial for married couples or families.” Karl, Ken, and James stated that they considered mentoring to be an important aspect of the graduate school experience. It was interesting to note that the participants did not stridently advocate for a mentor who was ethnically similar to themselves. For the participants, competency was the most salient characteristic. Ken expressed: “For me, the most important thing is, does my mentor have the skills and willingness to mentor me?”


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