The Urban Review

, Volume 50, Issue 5, pp 713–734 | Cite as

“You can go to college”: Employing a Developmental Perspective to Examine How Young Men of Color Construct a College-Going Identity

  • Adrian H. HuertaEmail author
  • Patricia M. McDonough
  • Walter R. Allen


This article examines college-going identity construction for Black, Latino, and Asian American and Pacific Islander high school students. The authors use Marcia’s (J Personal Soc Psychol 3(5):551–558, 1966; in: Delson (ed) Handbook of adolescent research, Wiley, New York, 1980) ego identity statuses perspective to examine how students develop their college-going identities to consider their post-high school pathways. We draw on focus groups interviews with 153 Black, Latino, and Asian American Pacific Islanders students enrolled in 10 urban and suburban high schools in California. The findings show the importance of being somebody, not quitting before establishing a career or graduating from college, joining the military as a pathway to finance postsecondary education, and the internal pressure to pay for higher education. The significance of this paper challenges the dominant narrative of young men of color not invested or interested in higher education, but highlight how the young men of color negotiate their agency in constructing their ideas and making decisions based on how various tensions and aspirations shape their goals after high school.


Asian American Pacific Islander males Black males College access Latino males Identity development Boys of color 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adrian H. Huerta
    • 1
    Email author
  • Patricia M. McDonough
    • 2
  • Walter R. Allen
    • 2
  1. 1.Pullias Center for Higher Education, Rossier School of EducationUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Higher Education and Organizational Change, Graduate School of Education and Information StudiesUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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