On Mentoring First Generation and Graduate Students of Color

By Marissa López

[For the history of this document’s development, please visit the blog post “On Mentoring Graduate Students of Color.”]

Anyone who’s experienced the long apprenticeship required by graduate school knows there’s something not quite sensible about the whole enterprise.  Newcomers to grad school often find themselves challenged and transformed by this world of esoteric traditions and invisible assumptions, where one’s expectations are tested and undermined, often—but not always—to the good. For those who come from communities traditionally excluded from higher education, the often-opaque world of academia can be alienating, especially to scholars of color and first-generation college students negotiating what can seem an illogical and sometimes hostile environment, one defined as much by problematic tradition and ideology as by rational purpose.[1]

An effective mentor can make all the difference for such students.  Mentoring, “the process by which a novitiate … is positively socialized by a sagacious person for the purpose of learning the traditions, practices, and frameworks of a profession association, or organization,” is widely regarded, across business and academic sectors, as a crucial aspect of career and professional development (Brown et al, 1999, 106).[2] While a substantial, ongoing critical conversation exists on mentoring graduate students and junior faculty, the literature on mentoring first generation and graduate students of color is, unfortunately, not as robust.[3] Our goal here, however, is neither a survey nor a comprehensive analysis of mentorship.  There are many such resources available to the interested reader (Aronson, 2008; Thomas et al, 2007; Tym et al, 2004; Brown et al, 1999),[4] and many publications offer excellent basic advice to graduate students of every demographic (Colón Semenza, 2010; Karp, 2009; Toth, 2008; Peters, 1997).[5] Rather than replicating that material, we aim for a concise overview coupled with some strategic advice for how faculty mentors might best serve a few specific needs and priorities.[6]

Many of the suggestions we found in reviewing the scholarly literature on mentoring first generation or students of color have an institutional orientation.  Aronson (2008) explicitly argues “educational reform needs to move beyond an emphasis on individual motivation to a focus on institutional and social change.”[7]  While we certainly agree, we imagine here an audience of faculty mentors who are less interested in taking on large-scale reform than in ideas for specific things that they can do now to help their students.  We imagine this article as a nuts-and-bolts outline to working with PhD candidates who are either first generation or students of color, making readers aware of the issues such students face and offering concrete, practical suggestions on an individual level. We have also tried to frame this piece in such a way that a faculty mentor could share it with students as a way of empowering them to advocate for themselves since our sense is that minority and first generation students often either lack mentors or are significantly less satisfied with the mentorship they receive than are their more traditional peers.  Hooks (1989), Bonilla et al (1994), and Ellis (2000), among others, corroborate our personal and anecdotal experience.[8]

In order to make this article as easy to read and use as possible, we have arranged our advice chronologically according to a student’s progress through a graduate program.  An effective mentor will first be able to help students understand the task they have undertaken in pursuing a PhD and why, then make a realistic plan for completion of the degree, and finally aid their advisee’s transition from student to professional.  While all graduate students share these tasks and concerns, an effective mentor will be generally aware of the unique challenges first generation and students of color face.

There is significantly more data on undergraduate first generation and students of color—and a smaller percentage of such students who do complete their bachelor’s degrees enroll in graduate programs than their more traditional peers.  Once finishing their degrees, however, data show fist generation and students of color to be on relatively equal academic and professional footing (Nunez and Cuccaro-Alamin, 1998).[9] It is also worth noting, that data from the early-2000s indicates that the majority of undergraduates at all types of colleges are non-traditional in some way including, among other things, deferring enrollment, attending part-time, being financially independent, or parents themselves (Aronson, 2008).[10]  As the academy slowly but surely democratizes, it will become more likely that a faculty member’s advisee is a first generation or PhD student of color. Such a student will likely be older, come from a low-income background, and be non-Anglo (Choy, 2001).[11]

When that student arrives it will be helpful to know the obstacles he or she has surmounted to even enter into a graduate program.  They were likely under-prepared for college and, once on campus, contended with a lack of knowledge about campus environment, bureaucracy and academic expectations (Schmidt, 2003; Choy, 2001; Thayer 2000).[12] Lack of family support can compound the negative impact of these factors and contributes to the cultural conflict students experience between their home and campus communities (Thayer, 2000).[13] This kind of under-preparation persists into graduate work, not in terms of achievement but in terms of lingering doubts about the value of academic work and one’s rightful place in the academy (Gardner and Holley, 2011).[14]

An effective mentor need not share these experiences and feelings, but they should be aware of and sensitive to them.  Ideally, they will also have a firm understanding of their own racial identity (Chrobot-Mason and Thomas, 2002).[15] Both Brown (1999) and Thomas (2007) refute the notion that only faculty of color can mentor students of color, and both caution against the mode of mentoring that gives rise to such ideas.  Mentoring is not an opportunity for scholars to reproduce themselves, but, as Brown describes, a chance “to engage in intellectual or professional exchange with another person whose mind might not yet be biased or predisposed to a particular tradition or paradigm.”[16] We address ourselves to those faculty members who are eager and willing to take advantage of that opportunity.

 

Romance vs. Realities: What is graduate school and where can it lead you?

Graduate school is not a continuation of one’s undergraduate years, which might be a welcome relief for first generation and students of color.  Nevertheless, an adviser’s first job is a rather tricky one: to disabuse students of romantic notions about what graduate school and the academy should be while simultaneously remaining sensitive to the challenges students have faced simply in getting through the door to their program.  Students should understand that graduate school is a long and arduous process with no guarantee of employment or job security at the end.  Over half of all graduate students on both the M.A. and Ph.D. levels do not complete their degrees, and of those who do, even fewer obtain employment in tenure-track lines.[17] Yet these facts, which mirror in many ways what students might be hearing from their families and home communities, should be accompanied by insight into the positive or important aspects of academic work.  Too cynical a rendering can discourage interested and committed minority students, which serves once again to limit graduate study to the privileged.

The transition from undergraduate to graduate work in the humanities is difficult for all students, but students of color and those from poor or working class backgrounds often face additional pressures as they seek to articulate the value (conceptual and monetary) of their work to themselves, their families, and their home communities, especially in the humanities where the use value is not necessarily self-evident. Striplin (1999) documents these pressures in community college transfer students, but we have also witnessed the broad patterns her data reveals at the graduate level.[18] Furthermore, in our experience, these complications are compounded by the limiting assumptions about minority students which still persist, even at many institutions claiming commitment to vaguely defined concepts of “diversity” and “equity.” Brown (1999) and Thomas (2007) describe the self-knowledge and self-reflection in which effective mentors across all demographics can and should engage in order to mitigate the adverse impact of such personal and institutional assumptions on their advisees.[19]

Evidence of that impact can be found in the MLA’s report, “Data on Humanities Doctorate Recipients and Faculty Members by Race and Ethnicity,” which documents the disturbingly low numbers of students of color in graduate school as well as their startlingly high attrition rates.[20] Aronson’s (2008) model of the educational system in the United States as a “funnel that filters out disadvantaged students at each stage” and perpetuates intergenerational inequality adds depth to the MLA’s data.[21] However, the MLA report reveals that, despite the challenges these students face in earning their degrees, the outcomes for them are far less bleak than for many of their peers.  Faculty advisers should know, and make their students aware, that students of color have relatively favorable placement rates and high degrees of job satisfaction.  There is less data on placement for first-generation Ph.D.s, but their challenges are certainly consistent with those facing scholars of color.[22]

Mentors should keep all these data in mind.  While clarity regarding the realities and rigors of graduate work for newcomers is vital, especially for those lacking insider knowledge, mentors should take care to provide information in a humane and encouraging way.  There is ample evidence that the academy needs and wants more diverse faculty, despite the very real challenges the academy itself creates to recruiting and retaining these scholars.[23]  Mentors can best help students of color and first-generation students at the beginning of their graduate careers by encouraging a realistic understanding of their work in the context of a larger, sustaining vision.

 

Determining Needs and Desires: What do you want to get out of graduate school?

Mentors will also be most useful if they can appreciate the nature of the “sustaining visions” that inspire many graduate students from underrepresented backgrounds.  A good mentor can facilitate the process of meaningful reflection at the beginning of a student’s studies and as the student progresses towards the degree.  One can ask: Why graduate school?  Is it for the degree itself, the opportunities it offers, the intellectual growth, or the fulfillment of family and community dreams? Does the student want to be a professor, a writer, a teacher, or to pursue opportunities outside of the academy?

Faculty should understand, however, that their students might not know how to answer these questions.  For example, in a study of middle-school students Vargas (2004) found that while low-income students had very high career aspirations, those aspirations were vaguely defined, and the students had little knowledge of how to attain their goals.[24] There is obviously a vast distance between an 8th grader and a PhD student, but inequities are compounded at every stage of the educational process, as Aronson (2008) has shown, and that lack of institutional knowledge and career options can linger into graduate work.[25] Asking students direct questions about their career goals will spark reflection, but faculty can also discuss their own career path with students, they can describe the career paths of colleagues whose interests parallel their students’, and they can direct their students to some of the general guides mentioned above.  Faculty might even suggest buying such guides for their departmental libraries, because being able to articulate and having clear answers to questions about one’s career goals—as well as being flexible enough to recognize good opportunities when they arise—gives structure and purpose to the enterprise.

 

Meeting Goals: Getting what you came for

Mentoring

Staying committed to one’s goals, and having the strength to modify them, is impossible without building a strong professional and personal community that provides a structure for self-evaluation.  An effective mentor’s next task, therefore, is helping students understand the importance of networks and mentoring to their professional success and personal well-being as well as the various forms they can take.There is ample research on the importance of social and academic networks for the success of underrepresented undergraduates (Dennis et al, 2005; Fisher, 2007).[26]  Graduate students benefit from similar clubs and networks.  Because the majority of graduate work takes place in isolation, and there are few minority scholars in departments, institutions and fields at large, building a broad mentoring and support network is imperative for first generation and graduate students of color (Higgins and Kram, 2001).[27]

An institution might facilitate such relationships by assigning academic mentors to students upon entering a program, but faculty can also take the initiative, especially when working with students who might be less familiar with the value or protocols of academic networking.[28] Initiative here refers to establishing and modeling for students what these relationships look like.  An effective mentor can let their students know that a supportive community can take many forms, including: family, friends, cultural surroundings, a graduate student cohort, and professional societies.  Mentors must encourage their mentees (and, when appropriate, facilitate through direct introductions or invitations to collaborative projects) to begin building a professional network early in their graduate careers that draws from as many sources as possible.

It is also especially important for academic mentors to recognize the importance of non-academic connections and to encourage their students to foster and nurture them. These can be of professional value, easing students’ entry into what can be small and tightly-knit (or even insular) fields.  Non-academic connections are also essential, though, to a long-term balance of priorities.  Developing ties beyond one’s studies keeps life and work in perspective and reminds one of the broader significance—and occasional absurdities—of academic life.

Above all, and most significantly, faculty mentors must teach their students to recognize the difference between good and bad mentoring relationships.  Can the student communicate clearly and honestly with their mentor?  Does the relationship offer opportunities for the mentee to be professionally visible?  Does the mentee feel the mentor is available to them? If the answer to these questions is no, the relationship might be a dysfunctional one and need adjustment (Thomas, 2007).[29]  An effective faculty member will have open lines of communication with their advisee, be able to help him or her set realistic expectations for their mentoring relationships, and help their mentee take action when necessary.[30]

Producing Scholarship

At its core, scholarship is about building knowledge (through research) and communicating it (through teaching and writing).  Academic professional development requires these skills, so a mentor must help cultivate them.  All graduate students can fall into chasms of despair and self-doubt that can limit productivity and quality.  Helping students find ways of getting through these times—or at least recognizing and helping the student access the best resources for moving through these periods—is one of the mentor’s biggest challenges.

Everyone tends to withdraw and struggle at times of low productivity.  For students whose work is focused on their own communities, protective tunnel vision can compound the problem.  A mentor can remind struggling students that scholarship is about making connections.  Scholars of Chicana/o literature can learn from Latin Americanists as well as scholars in Indigenous, African American, and Asian American studies, and vice versa.  Furthermore, communities of color have historically been marginalized and economically disempowered in such a way as to limit our archive. It might take some real digging to unearth one’s source materials and some creative thinking to articulate them as cultural texts.

One strategy mentors might use in this instance is to encourage their struggling students to turn to parallel fields when they hit roadblocks (scholarship on slave narratives, for example, offers many models for thinking through questions of authenticity and authorship that abound in the study of early Chicano literature, for example), but perhaps most effective is for mentors to share their own professional struggles and, if applicable and appropriate, bring students into the archive with them.  Everyone has hit their own bumps in the road, and we have all had our own unique “ah ha!” moments; sharing those with students, or even finding ways to bring students into their inception through guided archival work, will go a long way towards easing our students’ turbulence.

Turning research into scholarship is difficult for any scholar, but can be especially so for students who might lack the support networks of those whose families offer more experience with advanced degrees, and for whom academic writing can alienate them from their communities and even themselves.  The bad reputation of academic writing—which is often criticized for its stylistic excesses, tangled and impenetrable sentences, and vague, inaccessible content—can stymie productivity. A dedication to writing under any circumstances can help an emerging scholar work through these challenges.  Several fantastic guides exist to help all writers manage the daunting task of completing a dissertation, as well as future professional writing challenges.[31]  First generation and students of color sometimes feel particularly overwhelmed by academic-ese that is, often quite literally, foreign to them.  In our work with such students we have, with success recommended following the advice of basic, classic writing guides.[32]

 

Professional Development

Kathryn Hume argues elsewhere in these pages for the significance of professional development to graduate training and offers a guide to the varied approaches institutions can take.  Much of what Hume says applies to scholars of color as well and does not require repeating.  We would like to emphasize, however, that while professionalization should be regarded as a vital part of all students’ training, it is of crucial importance for first-generation scholars, many of whom are also scholars of color, as these groups might not have access to the informal training available to students with a long family history of graduate education (Thomas, 2007).[33]

Conferences are an ideal place to gain such knowledge through academic, ethnographic fieldwork, as it were.   Mentors should, therefore, encourage students to attend or present at workshops and symposia at their home institutions and beyond.  Not only are such experiences vital for building confidence, gaining feedback on one’s work and learning the unspoken ropes of professional behavior, but they provide crucial networking opportunities.  Several roadblocks may present themselves to conference success, however.

The first, fiscal, is a common problem and mentors can help all students identify institutional or associational funding resources that can be crucial to participation.  Secondly, the feelings of inadequacy and insecurity that can make first generation and student of color doubt their rightful places in their graduate programs can render them timid conference attendees.  In this case mentors must do a significant amount of hand-holding: put together panels to which you invite your students to present; if attending the same conference help the student network by introducing him or her to your colleagues at other institutions.  Finally, as mentors help students determine the right time and place to present their work, they should bear in mind that students and younger scholars of color face an additional challenge in emerging fields as they work to make their research legible across disciplinary divides, as well as in the face of their colleagues’ differing views of a particular venue’s prestige.  Encourage students to present at as wide a range of venues as possible in order to balance their CVs and gain valuable experience, before going on the market, in handling aggressive, antagonistic questioners.

 

The Job Market

From the beginning of their graduate careers, students should be thinking about their future job search.  Students should think expansively about their careers and consider non-academic positions not just because the academic job market is so limited and continues to shrink, but because a PhD prepares one for a range of meaningful pursuits in the public interest. Cultivating a non-academic professional profile while pursuing a PhD can be tricky, however, as students expressing interest in non-academic jobs might be perceived as being less serious about their studies.  Such stigma is a particular threat to students who might be drawn to more community-based uses for their degrees.  Encouraging students to follow their own inclinations—and advocating with one’s colleagues on behalf of diverse career options—can help expand the horizons for everyone involved.[34]

The earlier one begins thinking about future employment the better.  If seeking academic jobs, students can begin their networking and scholarship as early as possible, and draw on the expertise of their departmental or unit placement officer as well as some of the available printed resources.[35] If they are interested in jobs outside the academy, they can avail themselves of internships and other non-academic career-related institutional resources; institutional career centers often maintain extensive libraries of useful information and have trained career counselors who can dedicate themselves to the student’s job search in ways faculty cannot.[36]

Both the academic and non-academic job markets pose specific challenges to students of color.  Even the most well-intentioned prospective employers may harbor certain assumptions about racialized and ethnic communities.  For example, interviewers might assume that a scholar of Chicana/o literature is equally fluent with all Ethnic American literature, and may even offer compliments on the candidate’s English, despite the English Ph.D. he or she may have in hand.  An African American scholar studying Melville might be asked extensive questions about teaching African American literature, and about the possibility of teaching twentieth-century African American courses, with little if any attention given to her or his Melville scholarship.[37]  These are simple realities of the job market, and it is wise to be prepared for such lines of questioning.  Faculty members can be helpful here role-playing such questions in mock interview scenarios, helping student develop strategies for engaging the issue gently, firmly, and constructively so as not to jeopardize the interview.

 

In Closing

We emphasize that our advice here is selective and suggestive.  Much will depend on the specific relationship between mentor and mentee.  Some students will welcome substantial guidance, while others might interpret such attention as excessive, infantilizing, or even condescending.  At all times, personal generosity, a willingness to listen to each other’s perspective, and a mutual, collegial respect for one another will go a long way toward helping both participants navigate these choppy waters.  Individual initiative, professional commitment, and personal awareness links everything set forth above.  The academy is a rich world of ideas, but it is also an ancient institution with ugly legacies that have operated to the benefit of some and the detriment of others.  No one who enters this complex, contradictory space remains unchanged.  Though we cannot determine every aspect of that change, we can influence much of the experience.

 


 

Notes    (↵ returns to text)

  1. Anne-Marie Nunez and Stephanie Cuccaro-Alamin, First Generation Students: Undergraduates Whose Parents Never Enrolled in Postsecondary Education (Washington DC: US Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics [NCES], 1998). For the purposes of this article, “scholars of color” includes visible racial and ethnic minorities, Indigenous, and multiracial people. While not all people of color are first-generation college or university students, nor are all first-generation students people of color, there is substantial overlap between these categories and their socio-economic and educational contexts. Nunez and Cuccaro-Alamin found, for example, that first-generation college students are significantly more likely than their non-first-generation peers to be African American or Latino.
  2. Christopher M. Brown, Guy Davis, and Shedrick McClendon, “Mentoring Graduate Students of Color: Myths, Models, and Modes,” Peabody Journal of Education 74 (1999): 105-18.
  3. Thomas et al describe the lack of research on mentoring graduate students of color—Kecia Thomas, Leigh Willis, and Jimmy Davis, “Mentoring Minority Graduate Students: Issues and Strategies for Institutions, Faculty, and Students,” Equal Opportunities International 26, no. 2 (2007): 178-92; Though, it should be noted that several good book-length guides exist for such students, including Journey to the Ph.D.: How to Navigate the Process as African Americans, ed. by Anna L. Green and LeKita V. Scott (Sterling: Stylus 2003); The Latina/o Pathway to the Ph.D.: Abriendo Caminos, ed. by Jeanett Castellanos, Alberta M. Gloria, and Mark Kamimura (Sterling: Stylus, 2006); and Indigenizing the Academy: Transforming Scholarship and Empowering Communities, ed. by Devon Abbot Mihesuah and Angela Cavender Wilson (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2004). Savage et al offer an overview of programs aimed at junior faculty, while Johnson and Huwe describe models of graduate student mentorship, with an emphasis on potential pitfalls—Hallie Savage, Rashelle S. Karp, and Rose Logue “Faculty Mentorship at Colleges and Universities,” College English 52, no. 1 (2004): 21-24; Brad W. Johnson and Jennifer M. Huwe “Toward a Typology of Mentorship Dysfunction in Graduate School,” Psychotherapy: Theory/Research/Practice/Training 39, no. 1 (2002): 44-55.
  4. P. Aronson, “Breaking Barriers or Locked Out? Class Based Perceptions and Experiences of Postsecondary Education,” in Social Class and Transitions to Adulthood. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development no. 119, ed. J.T. Mortimer (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2008), 41-54; Thomas, “Mentoring Minority Graduate Students”; Brown, “Mentoring Graduate Students of Color”; Carmen Tym, Robin McMillon, Sandra Barone, and Jeff Webster, “First Generation CollegeStudents: A Literature Review,” Research and Analytical Services, Texas Guaranteed Student Loan Corporation (2004).
  5. Robert L. Peters, Getting What You Came For: The Smart Student’s Guide to Earning an M.A. or a Ph.D. (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1997); Gregory M Colón Semenza, Graduate Study for the Twenty-First Century: How to Build an Academic Career in the Humanities (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007); Jason Karp, How to Survive Your PhD: The Insider’s Guide to Avoiding Mistakes, Choosing the Right Program, Working with Professors, and Just How a Person Actually Writes a 200-Page Paper (Naperville: Sourcebooks, 2009); Emily Toth, Ms. Mentor’s New and Ever More Impeccable Advice for Women and Men in Academia (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009).
  6. In addition to our anonymous readers at Pedagogy, we thank the 2008 and 2009 members of the MLA Committee on the Literatures of People of Color in the United States and Canada for conversations about developing and revising this project as well as the colleagues and students who contributed ideas to its many drafts.
  7. Aronson, “Breaking Barriers,” 51.
  8. Bell Hooks, “Black and Female: Reflections on Graduate School,” in Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black (Boston: South End Press, 1989); James Bonilla, Carlton Pickron, and Travis Tatum, “Peer Mentoring Among Graduate Students of Color: Expanding the Mentoring Relationship,” in Mentoring Revisited:  Making an Impact on Individuals and Institutions, ed. Marie Wunsch (San Francisco:  Jossey Bass, 1994), 101-113; E. Ellis, “Race, Gender, and The Graduate Student Experience: Recent Research,” Diversity Digest, Fall (2000), Accessed October 16, 2012. www.diversityweb.org/Digest/F00/graduate.html.
  9. Nunez and Cuccaro-Alamin, “First Generation Students.”
  10. Aronson, “Breaking Barriers.”
  11. Susan P Choy, Students Whose Parents Did Not Go to College (Washington DC: National Center for Education Statistics, US Department of Education, 2007).
  12. Peter Schmidt, “Academe’s Hispanic Future: The Nation’s Largest Minority Group Faces Big Obstacles in Higher Education and Colleges Struggle to Find the Right Ways to Help,” The Chronicle of Higher Education 50, no. 14 (2003): A8; Choy, “Did Not Go to College”; Paul B. Thayer, “Retention of Students from First Generation and Low Income Backgrounds,” Opportunity Outlook May (2000), 2-8. http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/contentdelivery/servlet/ERICServlet?accno=ED446633
  13. Ibid.
  14. Susan K. Gardner and Karri A. Holley, “Those Invisible Barriers Are Real: The Progression of First Generation Students through Doctoral Education,” Equity and Excellence in Education 44, no. 1 (2007): 77-92.
  15. D.L. Chrobot Mason and K.M. Thomas, “Minority Employees in Majority Organizations: The Intersection of Individual and Organizational Racial Identity in the Workplace,” Human Resource Development Review 1, no. 3 (2002): 323-44.
  16. Thomas, “Minority Employees”; Brown, “Mentoring Graduate Students of Color,” 107.
  17. For information on completion rates see the Council on Graduate School’s PhD Completion Project (http://www.phdcompletion.org/index.asp), which found that from seven to ten years after beginning a PhD program 30% of students drop out and 55% complete the degree. The MLA web site has statistics on the job market (http://www.mla.org/career_resources#careerandjob).  The most recent findings on job market trends report that for the past few years advertised positions in both English and Foreign Languages have hovered around 1,500 with approximately 50% of those positions being for full time, tenure track jobs.
  18. Jenny J. Striplin, Facilitating Transfer for First Generation Community College Students, ERIC Digest, http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/contentdelivery/servlet/ERICServlet?accno=ED430627.
  19. Brown, “Mentoring Graduate Students of Color”; Thomas, “Minority Employees.”
  20. “Data on Humanities Doctorate Recipients and Faculty Members by Race and Ethnicity,” http://www.mla.org/pdf/data_on_humanities_2010.pdf.
  21. Aronson, “Breaking Barriers,” 44.
  22. See Nunez and Cuccaro-Alamin, “First Generation Students,” and Margaret Nagle, “Two Worlds: UMaine Researcher Studies the Needs of First-Generation Doctoral Students Within a Framework of Social Justice,” UMaine Today (Spring 2010), http://umainetoday.umaine.edu/past-issues/spring-2010/two-worlds.
  23. “Guidelines for Good Practice by the Committee on the Literatures of People of Color in the US and Canada” (available on the MLA’s website at http://www.mla.org/rep_guidelines_poc). The Committee on the Literatures of People of Color in the United States and Canada’s brochure details issues facing scholars of color and offers strategies for addressing them.
  24. Joel H. Vargas, College Knowledge: Addressing Information Barriers to College (Boston: The Education Resources Institute [TERI]), http://www.teri.org/pdf/research-studies/CollegeKnowledge.pdf.
  25. Aronson, “Breaking Barriers.”
  26. Jessica M Dennis, Jean S. Phinney, and Lizette Chauteco, “The Role of Motivation, Parental Support, and Peer Support in the Academic Success of Ethnic Minority First-Generation College Students,” Journal of College Student Development 46, no. 3 (2005), 223-36; Mary J. Fischer, “Settling Into Campus Life: Difference by Race/Ethnicity in College Involvement and Outcomes,” Journal of Higher Education. 78, no. 2 (2007), 125-61.
  27. MC Higgins and K.E. Kram, “Reconceptualizing Mentoring at Work: A Developmental Network Perspective,” Academy of Management Review 26, no. 2 (2001), 264-88.
  28. The Rackham Graduate School at the University of Michigan publishes an excellent guide to mentoring for graduate students: http://www.rackham.umich.edu/downloads/publications/mentoring.pdf.
  29. Thomas, “Mentoring Minority Graduate Students.”
  30. L. Eby, S. McManus, S. Simon, and J. Russell, “The Protégé’s Perspective Regarding Negative Mentoring Experiences: The Development of a Taxonomy,” Journal of Vocational Behavior. 57, no. 1 (2000), 1-21. Eby et al offer strategies and suggestions for dealing with negative mentoring relationships.
  31. As they complete their dissertations students will find The Thesis and The Book: A Guide for First-Time Academic Authors, by Eleanor Harman’s, et. al., particularly helpful (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003). Developing their profile as a professional writer, students might turn to Wendy Belcher’s Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks (Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2009).   Further down the road are William Germano’s stellar guides: Getting it Published: A Guide for Scholars And Anyone Else Serious about Writing Serious Books (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001) and From Dissertation to Book (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005).
  32. For students struggling with writing mechanics the following books have helped immensely when students work through the chapters on their own, apart from specific writing projects: Williams, Joseph, Style: The Basics of Clarity and Grace (Longman, 2010) and Strunk, William and E.B. White, The Elements of Style (Longman: 1999).
  33. Thomas, “Mentoring Minority Graduate Students.”
  34. Scott Jashik, “The 5-Year Humanities Ph.D.,” Inside Higher Ed, December 4, 2012. Accessed December 18, 2012. http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/12/04/stanford-moves-ahead-plans-radically-change-humanities-doctoral-education. Stanford has taken positive steps in this direction that will in time surely be emulated by institutions across the country.
  35. Three great print resources for the academic job search are Dawn M. Forno and Cheryl Reed’s Job Search in Academe: Strategic Rhetorics for Faculty Job Candidates (Sterling, VA: Stylus, 1999); Mary Morris Heiberger and Julia Miler Vick’s The Academic Job Search Handbook (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001); and Kathryn Hume’s Surviving Your Academic Job Hunt: Advice for Humanities Ph.D.s (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004).
  36. UC Berkeley’s Career Center maintains an extremely helpful website for PhDs seeking academic and non-academic job information, most of which is accessible to non-UC users: http://career.berkeley.edu/PhDs/PhDs.stm
  37. These examples are drawn from real-life interviews.
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