The retention and graduation rates of underrepresented minority, first-generation and low-income college students persist as problems in U.S. higher education. While researchers have documented the ways in which minority-serving institutions have been successful in serving these students, little is known about how friendships influence retention at these institutions. This study examines retention factors of first-year students who began college with close friends at a historically Black university. The researchers used exploratory factor analysis and binary logistic regressions to determine the factors and significance. In addition, the researchers used linear structural relations to estimate hypothesized causal models. Results of the study indicate students who started college with close friends were less academically prepared and persisted at comparable rates. In addition, social expectations and social confidence were determined as beneficial factors when comparing students who started with close friends to students who started without close friends.



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