First Advisor

Samuel Henry

Term of Graduation

Spring 1998

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Education: Policy, Foundation and Administration






Portland State University -- Students, Minority college students -- Oregon -- Portland



Physical Description

1 online resource (v, 93 pages)


The population of the United States is rapidly growing and the country's demographics are changing. As the U.S. population nears 269 million, 74.2 million represent ethnic minorities. Hence, many more ethnic minority students will enter the hallways of academe. Therefore, it is important for institutions of higher education to provide ethnic and racially diverse students opportunities for academic and social development within the educational setting.

Attending predominantly white institutions can cause ethnic minority students social, cultural, and mental adjustments that may affect academic achievement.

This thesis is an examination of the similarities and differences among first-year African American, Latino, and Native American students and their adjustment to college during the first term. This group of students entered college with financial and academic assistance from the Underrepresented Minorities Achievement Scholarship Program (UMAS) at Portland State University, a mid-size, public urban university.

The study seeks to answer the following questions: (a) What occurs during the first-term of college that contributes to academic persistence and retention of students of color? (b) What are the similarities and differences between African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans during their first-term at PSU? (c) What is the institution's role in ensuring ethnic students' transition and adjustment to the campus environment?

A two-phased approach is used and consists of a multiple-choice questionnaire entitled the "Ethnic Student Survey" (ESS) and focus group interviews conducted during Winter 1998. Twenty-six of the 32 UMAS freshmen participated in the survey. Nine students volunteered for the focus group interviews.

3 While the ESS data formed a basis of information about the participants, the focus group interviews provided insights into the experiences of students of color. Eleven open-ended questions were developed from the ESS to further investigate students' feelings and perceptions about campus life, such as the campus environment, student services, academic and social interactions, and future academic plans.

Recommendations are included to provide Academic and Student Affairs practitioners practical ways of assisting students of color with the transition to campus life.


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