Factors That Influence the Retention of Freshmen Students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities: A Theoretical Assessment

Factors That Influence the Retention of Freshmen Students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities: A Theoretical Assessment

Samuel L. Hinton (Independent Researcher, USA)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2998-9.ch005
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The research study was guided by such theories as social interactionist, student involvement framework, and student attrition framework that were to form the frame of references or foundation for the study. The social interactionist framework used students' backgrounds characteristics; shared values and a friendship to explain behavior while the student attrition framework used intentions attitudes and believe. In integrating the two theories, the researcher was able to predict or explain the study outcomes and link them to the existing body of knowledge. This research presented the theoretical framework of the study on factors that affected retention among freshmen students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The research problem in this chapter was factors that affected retention among freshmen students at HBCUs. This research problem anchored the entire study and formed the basis of constructing the study's theoretical framework. The key variables in this study were the freshmen students, theories, retention rates, and the factors affecting retention.
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Literature Review

The first year of a student’s college career is critical for long-term success and instrumental for future positive academic experiences. Students incorrectly perceive their admittance to college as the single most difficult element of the college-going process, but first-year students are often confronted with negotiating new responsibilities as well as developing a new identity as a college student. In the first year, students make the transition to college; hence, they must find their place within the greater campus community. Notably, there has to be social, academic and emotional adjustments, which depend on the students’ ability to manage their own limited resources, their course work as well as changing family relationships. Broadly speaking, freshman success entails developing academic and intellectual competencies, negotiating relationships, developing own identity, establishing a healthy lifestyle, pursuing a career choice, and developing a personal sense of civic duty.

The first-year in college is a challenging period for students, and it is particularly difficult for non-traditional students who may have come from underprivileged backgrounds. One of the important obstacles for these groups of students is a social, intellectual, and cultural disequilibrium within the college environment. Disequilibrium challenges students’ earlier assumptions as well as beliefs as they meet new people, ideas, and experiences. Secondly, the tension between challenge and support is equally important for traditionally under-represented groups. Institutions have the chance to express commitment to their students by continually communicating the high level of concern that exists for the well-being and development of its students. Ability of a student to adapt to college will depend more on the student’s perception of an institution’s level of commitment to the welfare of its students (Braxton, Hirschy & McClendon, 2004). Nicpon et al. (2007) noted that students with high-perceived level of social support are less likely to feel lonely, but commit to higher levels of educational goals. However, another study by Conley & Hamlin (2009) revealed that a student of color who is from first-generation background encounter compounded obstacles to completing their college degree because most of college campuses expect such students to adapt successfully on their own to the new, often puzzling and culturally alienating environment.

Among freshmen Mexican American and Latino students, a successful first year is noteworthy. It is because of demographic trends as well as persistent educational gap between Mexican Americans and other Latinos, and Latinos with the White majority. Even though Latinos make up the largest as well as the fastest growing minority group in the US, their level of educational attainment remains lowest among other ethnic groups (Liu, 2011). Therefore, rising Latino enrollment presents a unique opportunity for HBCUs to attract these students to their institutions. HBCUs have, for a long time, been known for offering an education that not only uniquely meets black students’ aspirations, desires and goals but is also culturally relevant to them (Esmieu & Martinez, 2014). Previous studies have, however, failed to present the HBCU context as a viable environment for first-year students. HBCUs remain some of the most academically supportive environments for students because of the increased faculty attention as well as encouragement. Besides, campus environment is often culturally supportive and welcoming to diverse students.

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