Research Finds Ways for Black Students to Ease the Transition to College

studentsA new study led by researchers at the University of Texas and Stanford University finds that all students face challenges in making the transition to college. This can be particularly true for African American students and these challenges can be a reason that retention and graduation rates for Black students are far below those for other racial and ethnic groups. Furthering the problem is that many Black students are aware of these problems faced by new college students and this anxiety can compound the problem.

But the study found that incoming students who are exposed to challenges that are common and improvable become more likely to get involved on campus, build relationships, and ultimately succeed at a higher rate. These exercises — referred to as lay-theory intervention — were presented to new students online during the summer before the first year of college. This informed the students what challenges lay ahead and how best to cope with them.

Greg Walton, an associate professor of psychology at Stanford and co-author of the study, stated that “it helps to know in advance that it’s normal to struggle at first in college. It doesn’t mean you’re dumb or that people like you don’t belong in college. When you know that struggles are normal, it’s easier to take a chance on making friends even when you feel different or isolated, join a student group, or go to your professor’s office hours.”

The study, “Teaching a Lay Theory Before College Narrows Achievement Gaps at Scale,” was published on the website of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It may be accessed here.

Related Articles

1 COMMENT

  1. The study is fascinating and the Lay Theory is an important addition to the body of knowledge on the subject of student enrollment, retention and persistence. I will add it to my list of reviewed articles and empirical research in my literature review for the doctorate program I am pursuing.

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Yale Issues Formal Apology After Research Finds Historic Ties to Slavery

"Today, on behalf of Yale University, we recognize our university’s historical role in and associations with slavery, as well as the labor, the experiences, and the contributions of enslaved people to our university’s history, and we apologize for the ways that Yale’s leaders, over the course of our early history, participated in slavery," says Yale University President Peter Salovey, and Josh Bekenstein, senior trustee of the Yale Corporation.

Kean University Establishes New Center for Africana Studies

“This new center epitomizes the university’s commitment to equity and to serving our state, particularly our urban communities,” said Kean University president Lamont Repollet. 

Pew Research Center Provides Insight into Share of Black-Owned Businesses in the United States

Through analyzing data from the United States Census Bureau and the National Science Foundation, the Pew Research Center found that Black-owned businesses make up 3 percent of companies and earn 1 percent of gross revenue in the United States.

Martin Lemellle Appointed the Eleventh President of Grambling State University

Dr. Martin Lemelle has been serving as executive vice president and chief financial officer at the Maryland Institute College of Art.

Featured Jobs