Different Worlds, Mutual Expectations: African Graduate Student Mothers and the Burden of U.S. Higher Education

Jane-Frances Y. Lobnibe

Abstract


In the United States, colleges use the internationalization of their student body as a conduit to achieving greater
diversity. Not only has the attraction of international students become a priority for many universities regardless
of size or location, universities administrators are often also quick to point to the increasing number of
international students as evidence of their commitment to diversity efforts. This paper explores African student
mothers’ experiences with the US higher education system by examining both the structural environments and
the socio-cultural burdens and constructs that affect and shape their learning and adjustment challenges in
predominantly white US universities. It argues that while individual behaviors and attitudes may present serious
challenges to the adjustments and full integration in US colleges, it is largely the structural and institutional
arrangements and policies (both written and unwritten) that often prove difficult to navigate. Drawing on the
experiences of twenty-three women from a predominantly white Midwestern university, it demonstrates that
policies and arrangements that place the distribution of material, social and academic resources on students’
ability to network in unequal social environments often place extra burden on the African graduate student
mother studying in US higher institution; how these students in turn respond, interpret and negotiate their
experiences will be highlighted.

Full Text: PDF DOI: 10.5539/jel.v2n2p201

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Journal of Education and Learning   ISSN 1927-5250 (Print)   ISSN 1927-5269 (Online)

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