Mixed Race Students in College

The Ecology of Race, Identity, and Community on Campus

By Kristen A. Renn

Subjects: Higher Education, Ethnicity
Series: SUNY series, Frontiers in Education
Paperback : 9780791461648, 308 pages, July 2004
Hardcover : 9780791461631, 308 pages, July 2004

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Table of contents


1. The Context of Mixed Race Students in American Higher Education

2. The Ecology of Multiracial Identity on Campus—An Analytic Framework and Research Design

3. Patterns of Multiracial Identity among College Students

4. I'm Black—Monoracial Identity

5. I'm Asian and Latina—Multiple Monoracial Identities

6. I'm Mixed—Multiracial Identity

7. I Don't Check Any Boxes—Extraracial Identity

8. It Depends—Situational Identity

9. From Patterns to Practice—What Mixed Race Identity Patterns Mean for Educational Practice

Appendix A: Revisions to the Standards for the Classification of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity

Appendix B: Summary of Study Participants

Appendix C: Interview and Focus Group Protocols




Portrays the diverse experiences and identities of mixed race college students.


"It's kind of an odd thing, really, because it's not like I'm one or the other, or like I fit here or there, but I kind of also fit everywhere. And nowhere. All at once. You know?" — Florence

"My racial identity, I would have to say, is multiracial. I am of the future. I believe there is going to come a day when a very, very large majority of everybody in the world is going to be mixed with more than one race. It's going to be multiracial for everybody. Everybody and their mother!" — Jack

Kristen A. Renn offers a new perspective on racial identity in the United States, that of mixed race college students making sense of the paradox of deconstructing racial categories while living on campuses sharply divided by race and ethnicity. Focusing on how peer culture shapes identity in public and private spaces, the book presents the findings of a qualitative research study involving fifty-six undergraduates from a variety of institutions. Renn uses an innovative ecology model to examine campus peer cultures and documents five patterns of multiracial identity that illustrate possibilities for integrating notions of identity construction (and deconstruction) with the highly salient nature of race in higher education. One of the most ambitious scholarly attempts to date to portray the diverse experiences and identities of mixed race college students, the book also discusses implications for higher education practice, policy, theory, and research.

Kristen A. Renn is Assistant Professor of Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education at Michigan State University.