Date of Award

Fall 10-15-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

PhD Higher Education Leadership, Management, Policy


Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Robert Kelchen, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Carolyn Sattin-Bajaj, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Joseph Stetar, Ph.D.


parental investment, Black middle class, higher education, inequality, wealth


The persistent negative racial disparity in the higher educational achievement of Black students in the United States has societal implications for employment, income trajectory, home ownership, and wealth accumulation. It is widely accepted that parental investment is crucial across all races in enhancing the academic performance of students and, ultimately, facilitating intergenerational socioeconomic progress. Although numerous studies have looked at the ways in which parents invest, a paucity of research has examined how Black middle-class parents engage in preparing their children for higher education. This narrative study explores how Black middle-class parents perceive the value of college, their understanding of their role in preparing their children for higher education, and the ways in which they catalyze investing in that preparation. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 21 Black middle-class parents who had a child in the 10th, 11th, or 12th grade.

The findings revealed that all 21 parents held postsecondary education in high esteem and were committed to their role in preparing their child to attend college. Although Black middle-class parents share several traits associated with educational aspiration with other middle-class parents, their unique social and economic challenges warrant more focused attention. These and other implications as well as recommendations for future research are discussed.