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The purpose of this study was to explore the reasons that African-American alumni from a historically Black university (HBCU) and a predominantly White university (PWI) chose to attend, remain in, and graduate from college. The central research question was how do African Americans describe their college experiences? The secondary research questions were (a) What led the participants to attend college? (b) What led the participants to persist in college? (c) What led the participants to graduate from college? and (d) How was race described by the participants? Thirty-seven African-American graduates from a historically Black university (HBCU) and a predominantly White institution (PWI) were interviewed in the qualitative study. Analysis of the transcripts led to five themes challenges, support, race, personal knowledge, and involvement. Findings of the study indicated that (a) Financing college was a major concern. Participants selected their institution based on financial aid/scholarships they received; (b) Having a support system was an important component of college completion for the participants; (c) Campus climate played a role in the African Americans’ interactions with others on campus; (d) Participants experienced growth when provided opportunities to become more self-aware; and (e) Participation in on-campus activities kept the participants engaged, and exposed them to new people and cultures.
Adviser: Marilyn L. Grady