Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Robert L. Betz

Second Advisor

Dr. Donna Talbot

Third Advisor

Dr. Lewis Walker


Research indicates that college student persistence, attrition, and success is related to the student’s ability to gain academic and social integration into the university community. This theory has guided researchers to explore either the academic or social factors that promote integration. Under the umbrella of social integration exists the underresearched category of environmental factors.

The overall purpose of this study was to identify selected environmental factors that affect minority and majority students’ persistence and success rates in a Midwestern state-run university. The environmental variables of size of college within a larger university, residential versus nonresidential nature of colleges within a larger university, and organizational structure ratio (ratio between the number of departments within the college and the total number of students within that college) were the specific variables examined.

Three main research questions were answered: (1) How are persistence and achievement rates related to the size of the program and affected by the sex and race of the students? (2) How are persistence and achievement rates related to residential versus nonresidential college programming and affected by the race and gender of the student? (3) How are persistence and achievement rates related to the size and structure (organizational ratio) of the program and affected by the sex and race of the student?

For the purposes of this study, 5,798 first-time, full-time freshmen, students from a large Midwestern university were selected. Data were collected from these students through the routine university tracking service and then harvested and analyzed using SPSS. The results of the correlations, t tests, ANOVAs and ANCOVAs indicated that there are relationships between persistence and achievement based on the environmental factors of college size, residential status of college, and organizational structure ratio. Future research needs to focus on the individual ethnic groups and environmental factors that would enhance student persistence and achievement.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access