Masters Thesis

African American Student Educational Persistence and Graduation at California State University Bakersfield

Graduation rates for African-American students at California State University Bakersfield (CSUB) were slightly lower than the national average ranging from 16.3 percent to 38.1 percent between 1995 and 2007. African-American graduation rates during that time period were also at least 10 percent lower than students who identified as Asian, Caucasian or Hispanic (CSUB Institutional Research and Planning, 2015). A mixed methods approach was utilized to explore influences on persistence and graduation that may not be captured solely by institutional data. Based on the interviews conducted for this study, many of the participants expressed that they face racial tension on a regular basis and that they lack the type of institutional support wanted and needed to help with their educational pursuits. A majority of the students, if not a part of an informal social support system, desired to belong to a group in which they “fit in.” Factors that may impact the African-American student population at CSUB were addressed and appropriate policy changes were suggested. Future research should include a comparative analysis of testimonies of current African-American CSUB students and student who have discontinued enrollment. Additional data may allow researchers to begin to identify specific processes that directly impact retention and graduation rates.

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