Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Education (Ed.D.)


Administrative and Instructional Leadership

First Advisor

Barbara Cozza

Second Advisor

Randall Clemens

Third Advisor

Cecelia Parnther


African American university students experience lower levels of retention on college campuses (Tinto, 2012). Academic support is important during the first year of college to increase the likelihood of future success. Therefore, it is crucial that African American university students, who sometimes find themselves isolated in a predominantly White institution, are given a range of social and academic support that eases the transition into college (Tinto, 2012). This will result in African American students staying within the institution to complete their college degree. The purpose of this phenomenological qualitative study was to explore personal and institutional factors affecting retention and graduation of African American students in higher education. The study focused on the experiences of African American students in a mentoring program at the university. The program focused on skilled-based development, academic support and career opportunities to enhance the overall academic success of African American students within the institution. The significance of the study was to understand, from the student perceptions, the role of the higher education institution in improving the student support base system including peer mentoring, faculty engagement, financial support and academic support.