From registration to graduation : the persistence of Black students at the University of Texas at Austin




Johnson, Deanna Michelle

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 Black undergraduate students continue to be ranked as the student population with the lowest ability to persist to completion in higher education. Though colleges across the nation have implemented systems to alleviate this issue, Black undergraduate students still do not persist to graduation at a rate parallel to other races of students. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the characteristics and experiences of Black senior-level undergraduates at the University of Texas at Austin with impending graduation dates, the barriers they encountered in college and the factors that supported their ability to persist from registration to graduation, thus earning an undergraduate degree. Utilizing Astin’s Input-Environment-Outcome Model and Theory of Involvement and Tinto’s Theory of Departure, this study explored the barriers hindering Black student persistence such as being academically underprepared and financially strained as well as revamping adaptation skills for their college experiences. It also explored the supporting factors, such as financial support, mentors, and involvement in social activities such as student organizations that assist Black undergraduate students’ ability to persist.
 The research questions addressed were directed toward acquiring information from senior-level UT Austin Black undergraduate students with impending graduation dates, through individual interviews and a focus group, regarding their pre-college experiences, the barriers they encountered while persisting to completion, and the supportive factors that enabled them to successfully complete their undergraduate studies. 
 The research revealed that the aforementioned supporting factors and the barriers, along with other emerging supportive factors and barriers in the data, were major indicators of whether Black undergraduates persisted based on their ability to combat the barriers by properly utilizing the supportive factors available at UT Austin. Results from this study have the ability to provide useful information to UT Austin’s faculty/staff and administrators regarding the policies and procedures that need to be both revamped and implemented to assist Black undergraduate students with the ability to persist to completion at the institution.


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