Book by Michael Cuyjet
Review by Joy Gaston Gayles
Educational Leadership & Policy Studies
Florida State University

Academic advisors interested in learning more about issues, challenges, and the experiences of various subpopulations of African American males on college campuses will find Michael Cuyjet’s book, African American Men in College a must read. As a follow up to his 1997 New Directions for Student Services volume, Helping African American Men Succeed in College, the current text provides updated and expanded information concerning African American males in college. The authors offer several recommendations for improving the recruitment efforts, campus climate, and retention of African American males in higher education.

A strength of the book is its organization. Part I of the text delineates issues and challenges faced by African American males. Part II highlights several best practices that can be incorporated on college campuses across the country to enhance the collegiate experiences of African American males. Often issues are presented in the literature with little to no discussion of practical solutions. Cuyjet offers nine examples of programs, activities, and efforts to enhance the experiences of African American males that are certainly encouraging and can be useful for administrators, faculty, and staff looking for alternatives on their respective campuses.   

Cuyjet opens the book by discussing the importance of disaggregating data on African Americans in college in order to obtain a true understanding of the successes and failures of these students. Often the experiences of African American females mask potential problem areas for African American males. Throughout the text a number of behavioral terms are explained. For example, “cool pose is a distinctive coping mechanism that serves to counter, at least in part, the dangers that black males encounter on a daily basis” (p. 16). In chapter 6, Watson distinguishes religion from spirituality and defines two key terms related to the role of spirituality and religion in the lives of African American males.

Creative soul force is an element of spirituality that creates cultural nuances that assist African Americans in adapting, transforming, and transcending reality through creative construction of Black culture...Resistant soul force allows individuals to overcome human oppression through creating, transforming, and transcending, so one’s spirit can survive and thrive (p. 114)

The book provides a detailed description of issues pertaining to various subpopulations of African American males such as student athletes, gay men, and members of Black fraternities. However, the book does not provide such an analysis for high achieving African American males, African American males with disabilities, or African American males in graduate and professional schools. The text also covers the experiences of African American males at HBCUs and community colleges. A few chapters reported findings from empirical data on African American males, though the sample sizes were small and authors were unable to generalize findings to the larger population of undergraduate African American males in higher education.

Overall, I recommend this book to any advisor who wants a deeper understanding about the college experience of African American males and how to help them succeed. Advisors can use the information in this book to increase their knowledge and awareness about African American males, thus increasing their capacity to advise them from a holistic developmental perspective.


Cuyjet, M. J. (Ed.). (1997). Helping African American men succeed in college. New Directions for Student Services, n. 80. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

African American Men in College. Book by Michael Cuyjet. Review by Joy Gaston Gayles. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.384.pp., $38.00. ISBN # 0-7879-6460-3
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