First Advisor

Mary K. Kinnick

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership: Postsecondary Education


Educational Leadership and Policy




College attendance, Minority college students -- Attitudes, Minority college students -- Social conditions



Physical Description

3, iv, 197 leaves 28 cm.


This dissertation is an examination of influences that have contributed to the retention of a group of minority students attending a predominately white postsecondary institution. The focus of the study is on the students' perspectives and the meaning and personal interpretation students draw from influences that impinge upon them and from their interactions with the college experience. From a sociological perspective this view and emphasis on meaning is described as the sociology of everyday life. The component of the sociology of everyday life which directed the methodology is symbolic interactionism. The data collection instrument was a focused interview. Variables from the Metzner and Bean (1987) Conceptual Model of Nontraditional Student Attrition and Tinto (1987) Student Integration Model served as the starting point for the formation of the open-ended questions. The selected group of students were participants in a collaborative program between a school district, a community college, and a state university designed to encourage minorities to pursue careers in education. Twelve out of 25 qualified participants volunteered for the study. They represented a heterogeneous group of African-American, Hispanic-American, and Asian-American students. The data indicated that while the students had divergent family and educational experiences prior to entering the college, certain circumstances took place that were in many instances similar. The findings were multifaceted and represent institutional, environmental, and personal influences. Institutional influences included the encouragement of faculty and staff, introduction of college as a choice either early in their lives or when they were ready to make career changes, academic supports, ethnic and multicultural studies, a familiar site on campus to go for assistance, and the availability of supportive administrators and faculty. Environmental influences included familiarity with the lack of employment opportunities without a college degree, and experience in racially integrated environments. Personal influences included assistance with college expenses from a family member, awareness of the economic limitations without advanced training, and personal commitment and determination to persist. Supportive relationships within the context of the students' families, educational experiences and the broader society of which they were an integral part all played influential roles in the persistence of the students.


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