The retention and degree attainment of Men of Color (MOC) remain a pressing issue, particularly those males attending U.S. Predominantly White Institutions (PWI) community colleges. Though 62% of MOCs begin their academic pathway through a 2-year college, only 25% graduate with a degree or certificate within three years (Huerta, Romero-Morales & Salazar, 2021; Hilton, Wood & Lewis 2012; Mangan, 2014). The first year of college can be challenging for students, especially those belonging to an underrepresented, underserved, low income or first-generation population. Unfortunately, MOC encounter confounding issues that serve as barriers to their overall academic and social success. Aside from having to navigate those typical challenges associated with the first year transition, MOC face additional barriers related to race, gender, and masculinity (Huerta, et. al, 202; Williams, 2014). Men of Color are not viewed as total human beings, but generic persons, reduced to labels and stereotypes (O’Neil, 2015). There exist a need for further research that explores the first year experience of MOC. Comprehending this critical juncture of the academic journey could lead to constructing multilayered interventions at the individual and institutional level. This qualitative study explored the perceptions of male students to understand factors that impeded and support the initial orientation into a 2- Year PWI community college.
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