"A Tug of War for Our Minds:" African American High School Students' Perceptions of their Academic Identities and College Aspirations

The research examining African American high school students' perceptions of their academic identities has been limited. Yet, multitudes of other sources have contributed to the discussion on how to reverse the perennial underachievement of many African American students. This qualitative study attempts to provide a space for African American high school students to contribute to this important dialogue about their own perspectives, the influences on their academic identities, and their educational experiences in general. This qualitative study with African American students at two urban high schools revealed three key themes that influenced their academic identities: the role of parents; the perceptions of teachers and counselors; and the role of college. The viewpoints offered by the students in this study provide valuable insight into a marginalized population and tender insight into correcting persistent school failure.