Publication Date

Fall 2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Counselor Education


Jason Laker

Subject Areas



A qualitative study examining the individual and personal definitions of college success from the perspective of Black students at predominantly White and elite institutions. Using students from the University of California, Berkeley as a snapshot of the larger institutional context, this thesis centers the experiences of Black undergraduate students to discuss equity and student success. The university’s written texts, reports and survey results were examined regarding diversity and interpreted to reveal patterns in subtext and narrative about commitments to success and compared to that of the students’ experiences. Emergent themes included: isolation and sense of belonging, race relations including intra group differences, and community support. Findings offer insight into how Black students at Berkeley understand college success and the influence of race in navigating an elite university context. Implications are presented for higher education and student affairs professionals and recommendations for the field are discussed.