Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership, Research and Counseling

First Advisor

Eugene Kennedy


This study is aimed at determining the input and environmental factors which contribute to the academic success or failure of students at an historically black institution. Three files were merged with first-time and transfer freshmen characteristics to serve as a basis for the quantitative analyses. On the qualitative front, a case study of college life at Southern University, Baton Rouge was performed. Data were collected from interviews with students, recent graduates, and University personnel. Additionally, the case study involve analyses of institutional records between 1993--1997. The quantitative data analyses revealed that ACT scores, gender, enrollment status, age, and housing arrangement significantly influenced academic success, while ethnicity and the residence of students did not. There was a negative correlation between students' age and ACT, ethnicity, housing, enrollment, and admission status as well as between GPA and students' gender, while first-term GPA and ACT scores were positively related to retention and graduation. Findings from the qualitative study confirmed some of this. Overall, the quantitative results of the study clearly showed that the first year of college may be critical to the success of students in terms of their GPA, persistence behavior, and attainment of a degree. Perhaps the most striking finding from this study was that the University was effective in retaining its students. The approach used in the prediction also indicated weaknesses inherent in the use of raw count or averages for determining retention rates. On the other hand, in the qualitative study, self-determination, interaction with the faculty, and family support were found to be central to the success of the students. Also suggested was that the achievement of the students may depend on their preparation, gender, living on campus, and other variables revealed in the quantitative study. Additionally, qualitative study indicated that the level of integration of students into the University community and a caring and nurturing environment contributed to their success. Use of these complementary methods provided better insight into understanding the complexities surrounding student life on college campuses today, particularly that of African Americans at an historically black institution.