Date of Award

Spring 5-3-2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling and Psychological Services

First Advisor

Julie Ancis, PhD

Second Advisor

Gwendolyn Benson, PhD

Third Advisor

Greg Brack, PhD

Fourth Advisor

Jonathan Orr, PhD


The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the lived experiences of economically disadvantaged, Black students attending predominantly White, elite private boarding schools. Data were collected utilizing semi-structured interviews with 9 participants, with each interview lasting approximately 90 minutes. The recursive method of data collection and analysis was informed by six steps outlined by Creswell (1998), as well as Consensual Qualitative Research (CQR) methods (Hill, Thompson, & Williams, 1997). Findings revealed 9 themes associated with participants' experiences: classroom experiences, value of Black peer networks, caught between two worlds, racial perceptions, desire to connect with people of all races, socioeconomic challenges, living away from home challenges, impact of peers on level of success, and significance of relationships with Black faculty. Practice and research implications for Black students attending private school, as well as for private school faculty and administrators, are discussed.