The Effects of the Samoan Culture on the Samoan College Student’s Experiences with Education and Assimilation

Date of Award

Spring 2015

Document Type


First Advisor

Rebecca Overmyer-Velazquez


The lack of studies done on Pacific Islander students is evident in the literature, but more so regarding Samoan students. The majority of literature on the Samoan people focuses on identity, family, culture and rarely on the Samoan student. Even more so on the Samoan college student. It is imperative to understand such a fast growing minority population in the United States and the relationship between education and assimilation that can either prove beneficial or detrimental to the student’s experiences. It is also imperative to seek how assimilation within this population has challenged the old model of what assimilation is; that is, one cannot partially assimilate, but must rather fully assimilate in order to be successful. The question I sought to answer was: How does the Samoan culture either positively or negatively affect the Samoan student’s college experience? I took a quantitative approach by distributing surveys to 50 Samoan college graduates or current students from a 2-year or 4-year college in the United States. All participants were 18 years of age or older. The literature argues that academic success has been equated to assimilation into American society; but is this always the case? The majority of respondents participated in Samoan culture and cited church, family and education as the main sources of culture. The majority of respondents also performed well in school, which suggests that one does not have to assimilate in order to be successful, as the literature stated. My results were consistent with my hypothesis that family and church played a huge role in the Samoan college student’s experience. This study is slightly skewered towards those who are or were successful in college. Further research should be done on reasons why Samoans did not finish school; or why they take personal responsibility for their failures, instead of blaming them on the Samoan culture. This study seeks to help educate and inform the Samoan community regarding education and the advantages and/or disadvantages of assimilating society.


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