For many years, the gaps in academic achievements between minority college students and their White counterpoints have confounded analysts who have examined many varying factors to no avail. But if a new study is right, the explanation for the gap may be something many have not considered: loneliness.
In a new study from Sanford University, researchers followed black and white students from their second semester in college to their graduation day. Along the way, researchers Gregory M. Walton and Geoffrey L. Cohen, asked students to talk about their college experiences, expressing their anxieties, concerns and challenges.
Walton and Cohen used one group as a control, letting them spill their thoughts on college life and simply recording what they said. But in the second group, researchers staged a one-hour intervention asking the students why they believed their thoughts on their experience were true and what advice they would give underclassmen coming behind them.
According to the report:
For black participants, the intervention tripled the number who graduated in the top 25% of the class…(the) exercise had no effect on white students, even though African Americans are certainly not alone in facing challenges fitting in at college.
If the Sandford researchers are right, the hour long intervention is a powerful tool in bridging the GPA gap and brining lower achieving Black students up in academic standing. Speaking to TIME about the study’s finding Valerie Purdie-Vaughns, assistant professor of psychology at Columbia University said:
“This is a powerful demonstration of the idea that if you can increase minority students’ sense of belonging, it doesn’t just have an effect on things like whether they like their roommates or not. It actually has a long term impact on academic performance and health outcomes.”
Given the findings, it’s interesting to consider the importance of mentoring groups within multicultural student organizations. While the actual participation of these groups varies from campus to campus, across the board they could be playing a major role in helping minority students improve their college experience and performance.
Tell us what you think Clutchettes, do social circles play a role in academic achievement in Black students? Share your thoughts!