“On My Head About It”: College Aspirations, Social Media Participation, and Community Cultural Wealth

Brown et al. / Social Media + Society / April 2022

Black Students Laughing at Phone

Given the widespread use of social media among adolescents, online interactions that facilitate high school students’ college knowledge acquisition could have a transformative impact on college access patterns, especially for underrepresented students. This study uses interview data collected from Black high school students in Detroit (N = 24) to examine their experiences and perceptions as they prepare for the transition to post-secondary education. In contrast to traditional social capital perspectives that tend to dominate social media scholarship, the authors instead employ a Community Cultural Wealth framework to reveal how students access distinctive forms of cultural resources via online and offline interactions. Their findings suggest students used social media to access cultural wealth as they (1) developed post-secondary educational aspirations, (2) planned to navigate the post-secondary admissions process, (3) resisted stereotypes about youth from Detroit, and (4) engaged in platform-switching to cultivate their college information networks online.