We compared the goals, reputations and behaviours of three groups: African adolescents from refugee backgrounds in Australian Intensive English Centres (IEC), African adolescents who have transitioned from an IEC into mainstream schooling, and Australian mainstream adolescents. We posit the need for African adolescents from refugee backgrounds to identify with the dominant social group within the IEC and mainstream settings is important for the goals they set, the reputations they choose, and the manner in which they pursue them. To this end, we conducted a cross sectional comparison through Reputation Enhancing Goals Theory, an approach congruent with sociocultural adaptation. We found African adolescents in IEC contexts set academic goals associated with a conforming reputation, whereas African adolescents in mainstream schooling set social goals associated with a non-conforming reputation. Australian mainstream students had an equal split between academic and social goals and conforming/non-conforming reputations. Each of the three groups indulged in behaviours congruent with the goals set and reputation sought. A series of multiple-mediation models revealed significant indirect effects on a number of variables via School Connectedness, Control over most important goal, and to a lesser extent Goals. African adolescents in mainstream schooling attempt to adapt to another dominant culture (i.e., mainstream peers) on transitioning from IEC, but face confusion about who they are and who they wish to be. The implications for adolescents from African refuge backgrounds is, that while placing them in IECs for up to two years is laudable, further support is needed when they transition to mainstream schooling.