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Since 1993, the USA has witnessed a gradual increase in the number of black students being enrolled into institutions of higher learning. However, it is also among the statistics where there is the revelation that over 50% of the students who enroll for the higher education services end up failing to complete their courses. With the statistics at hand, and the existing factor that the black students face increased risk levels of not completing their degree enrolments, there rises the need to conduct an examination with the objective to understand the college attrition rates among the black students.

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Literature Review

Blacks and Retention

Retention grew in the 1930s as educational institutions became popular and individuals came to the realization of the benefits and importance of having a degree. As the established institutions wanted to diversify their services into offering services to a wider range of individuals of different ethnic origins, there issue about retention grew to become a real issue as it was hard for the institutions to provide a conducive environment that was in position to handle and provide productive environment for all the students with varied cultural origins and backgrounds (Fleming, 1981a). The cultural disconnect in the ability of the institutions to offer productive environment exists even today as illustrated by two sample researches. The first research focused on the students attending the PWIs with the objective of knowing the challenges that the students encountered. The research established three main themes included racial stereotypes, intellectual competence, and physical characteristics. The second research conducted by Greer and Chwalisz also find similar constraints and scenarios where the minority groups witness and experience feelings of discomfort. The research focuses on pointing out key aspects related to cases of stress, where aspects ranging from campus climate stressors, interpersonal stressors, group stressors, racial and discrimination stressors, and academic-confidence stressors, were identified. On the overall scale, it was identified that there were higher levels of stress cases on the students who attended PWIs as compared to those attending the HBCUs.

Blacks and College Attrition

Graham et al. (1985) conducted a study to illustrate the impact that one’s race has on their college attrition. Through the longitudinal research performed on a sample of 42 black students that attended PWIs, there were several establishments. Black students were identified to have dropped out of their institutions in their first years of education in the schools. It was also identified that the cases were high for the scenarios where the black students enrolled to the PWIs from purely black high schools (Allen, 1985). The change in environment and social interactions played a key part in the attrition witnessed among the students.

There are several theories that come in handy to propose that an individual’s sense of belonging, their involvement, and their approach towards academic and social membership form very essential aspects to their growth and other accomplishments. From such theories, it would be evident for one to expect better and more positive outcomes for the case of the black students attending HBCUs rather than those attending the PWIs (Allen, 1992). In fact, it is evident that certain positive impacts on aspects such as persistence, for instance, are constant even with conditions and preexisting characteristics are put to play. In addition to the benefits evident in the HBCUs institutions, there are several other added benefits related to the institutions such as receivership of greater professional molding and development, and increased cases of socioeconomic interactions and advantages (Amechi et al., 2020). It is often the case that students who attend the HBCUs have a higher probability of going ahead with the education and graduating relative to their counterparts who attend the PWIs.

Relatively, there are few examples of studies and researches that have come forward to point out a number of cognitive outcomes that black students who attend HBCU experience compared to their counterparts in PWIs. The studies raise the question as to whether the racial environment that one experiences and witnesses in their college life has an impact on their cognitive abilities and intellectual skills. It has been found that students in HBCUs are bound to experience increased levels of cognitive differences especially in their first years and the last years of college (Graham et al., 1985). However, relative to the results and outcomes from tests and analysis conducted between students from the two institutions, it was registered that the students attending PWIs witnessed higher scored compared to their counterparts in the HBCUs.

From early researches, it was established that there was minimal differences experienced or witnessed in the Graduate Record Exam between the two institutions when the conditions and characteristics regarding the precollege life were included in the research. However, given that the research was conducted for all the students in the institution regardless of the skin color, there are minimal considerations and inclusions of racial impacts and effects on the black students who attend both the HBCUs and PWIs (Greer & Chwalisz, 2007). It is also evident that such research procedures and techniques had limitations such as limitations brought about by the use of cross-sectional samples, and the use of approaches that are used on assessing professional development, rather than the sole focus on cognitive development.

The incorporation of the College Assessment of Academic Proficiency (CAAP) comes in handy as an approach to solve the drawbacks and limitations witnessed in the Graduate Record Exam approach as the man focus of the assessment is to determine and point out the cognitive growth of students in the institutions (Greer & Chwalisz, 2007). From using the CAAP, it was established that there were no significant differences witnessed, given that the precollege differences and characteristics were being controlled.

If the learning environment’s involvement and comfort play a part in the growth of students, then the researchers would come up with relationships and associations relating to the positive features of the learning environment for the HBCU and the PWI students. It is thus critical to establish a link that provides a direct reflection on the experiences that students witness in their different learning environments, regardless of the institutions they subscribe to (Karemera et al., 2003). Such aspects of assessments on the life and interaction of the students in the various institutions come in handy to shed light to the nature of interactions that the students have, and the impact of these various learning environments to the capabilities and skills impacted onto the students.





Discussion and Conclusion

Future Research

There exists a consideration regarding the directions to take in the case of future studies with the incorporation of the path analysis approach. Through path analysis, it is evident and allowable to gather data and information of relations for both the dependent variables and the independent variables and the process of exploring relationships between these variables. In order to foster developments and validity in the case of future research studies and comparisons performed between the HBCUs and PWIs, it is critical to ensure that the sample size from both the institutions should be equal and the size larger in order to increase the study’s statistical power (McDonald & Vrana, 2007). It is also essential that other additional measures should be put to consideration. Such measures to be included should focus on the social parameters of the students, their study habits, and the impact that their mentors and providers of academic enlightenment have on the progress of the students in their respective institutions. It is proper to include social patterns of the students to provide more light on the environment that the student interacts with.


It is evident from the study that in both of the educational setups, that is, HBCUs and PWIs, there are direct and indirect relationships that come to play relating to the students’ identification of racial climates, perception of academic climates, racial identity and attitudes, and the general academic performance of the students. Even with the fact that several factors and precollege factors are excluded, there is an identification that the personal characteristics and the environmental racial dynamics come in handy in determining the success of the black students (Negga et al., 2007). Given the disparities witnessed between the HBCUs and PWIs, it is thus critical to ensure that the campus environment assures the students of conscious educators, professional counselors, and psychologists who are to be vital in enhancing the success of the black students in their educational journey. Workshops need to be initialized in the schools with the intention of setting up interactive and productive social environments, and with the strengthened social support, student participation in the activities of the institution are increased, hence their success at the end of their courses.

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