An examination of how specific support structures impact the adjustment process of sub-Saharan African students in two Midwestern institutions of higher education

Geoffrey H Kanani, Purdue University


The purpose of this study was to provide insight into the lived experiences and adjustment challenges of foreign students from Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) studying in two institutions of higher learning in the United States. Hermeneutic phenomenology approach was identified as an appropriate methodology for this study because it focuses on the human experience as it is lived and interpreted. Sub-Saharan African region constitutes 47 countries and falls within the African continent south of Sahara Desert. Data were collected through open-ended questions, interviews and focus groups. Maximum variation and snowballing sampling procedures were utilized. A total of 16 students participated from two large universities in the Midwestern US. Data was audio recorded, transcribed and coded, while balancing participant descriptions with insightful interpretations. I used NVivo software 11 to aid data coding and analysis. Five analytical themes were identified through a pilot study: i) technological challenges, ii) student relationship with mentors, iii) funding sources, iv) faculty training and support and, v) social life. Nine sub-themes addressing issues of central concern to African students emerged: acculturation and adaptation issues; addressing challenges and xii struggles; coping strategies and recommendations; extended family and African community perspective; funding uncertainty; lack of access, skills and usage of technology; poverty and Inequality; relationships with advisor, students and college personnel; and seeking help and support.




Naimi, Purdue University.

Subject Area

School administration|Sub Saharan Africa Studies

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