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Multiracial Students Not Confused, Says Study

Multiracial Students Not Confused, Says Study

Every year when students fill out college application forms, many get frustrated when asked to identify a racial category, especially if they are multiracial. Although multiracial students may express feelings of invalidation, a new study says they are not confused individuals.

In “The New Millennium: Biracial and Multiracial Students on College Campuses,” Drs. Felicia A. Brabec and Todd D. Sevig of the University of Michigan’s Counseling and Psychological Services found that multiracial students do not fit the stereotype of confused individuals with low self-esteem.

Their findings, based on interviews at the University of Michigan’s counseling center with 6,973 students, including 310 multiracial students, were presented at The American College Personnel Association conference in Indianapolis earlier this month.

The counseling goals of multiracial students did not differ from those of other students surveyed, according to the analysis. The multiracial students suffered from problems similar to the larger student community, including depression, anxiety, self-esteem and academic issues. But 50 percent of the multiracial students surveyed indicated they had a strong sense of their cultural and ethnic identity. Only 30 percent of the broader student population made that claim.

“The stereotype that they are psychologically maladjusted and confused is not the case,” says Brabec. “We’re trying to bust those myths.”

The clinical implications of the study suggest that counselors should not assume mulitracial students have problems with their identity. Instead, they should acknowledge multiracial/biracial identity as an ethnic construct. The students certainly did. When asked to identify their race, some refused to be put into a single category. Responses ranged from “Blatino (Black/Latino) and White” to “It shouldn’t matter.”

Brabec says it may be frustrating for multiracial students to be categorized in a box, but some people are fine with it. “The important thing is that they understand themselves, even if others don’t,” she says.

— By Shilpa Banerji

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