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Fitting in by race /ethnicity: The social and academic integration of diverse students at a large predominantly white university

Kathleen M Morley, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The persistence literature demonstrates that African American and Latino/a students are less likely to graduate from predominantly white institutions than Asian and white students. Academic preparation is an important factor in explaining this phenomenon. However, the ALANA (African, Latino/a, Asian and Native American) persistence literature suggests that racial/ethnic dynamics in college also influence persistence. Both studies in this literature and Tinto's model of institutional departure indicate that student interactions in college play an important role in persistence. This study examined the influence of racial/ethnic dynamics on the process of social and academic integration. Students of diverse racial/ethnic and academic backgrounds were interviewed three times during their first-year and at the beginning of their sophomore year about their pre-college and in-college experiences. Results yielded a qualitative description of the process of integration and indicated that peer culture and institutional environment have a strong impact on how students become integrated into campus life. Differences in the process of integration by race/ethnicity revealed that society's racial/ethnic hierarchy was reinforced through racial/ethnic accountability, the pervasiveness of white culture, and the pursuit of a color-blind society. These dynamics in addition to differences in learning opportunities that affected academic preparation functioned to challenge the integration of ALANA students, particularly African American and Latino/a students, into campus life.

Subject Area

Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology|African Americans|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Morley, Kathleen M, "Fitting in by race /ethnicity: The social and academic integration of diverse students at a large predominantly white university" (2000). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9988825.