Factors Impacting the Occurrence of Interracial Friendships at College

A study published in the journal Sociology of Education reports that white college students at predominantly white universities generally increase their number of interracial friendships during their freshman year whereas African-American college students at predominantly white educational institutions tend to have fewer white friends than they had before they entered college.

The authors believe that black students on predominantly white campuses tend to seek out other black students for social relationships. According to the authors, the black students “cocoon” with other blacks while they attempt to adapt to the university environment.

But for many white students, particularly those who come from predominantly white high schools, they are exposed to large numbers of black students for the first time and therefore have more opportunities for social interaction with African Americans than they had in high school.

The study also found that students who are involved in sports or other extracurricular activities and students who had a roommate of another race were more likely to form interracial friendships than other students. Conversely, students who joined sororities or fraternities were less likely to form friendships with students of other races.