Researchers at Ohio State University and Virginia Commonwealth University found that nearly 1 in 6 interracial roommate relationships failed, meaning at least one roommate moved out by the end of the first quarter. However, the rest of black students who were paired with a white roommate performed better academically than did those with a roommate of the same race.
Lead author Natalie Shook, who began the research while at Ohio State University, says that African-American students may be better adjusted to college because they live with someone who can help them learn about the challenges and norms of a different environment.
The study, published in the journal Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, said that African-American students with white roommates had a 0.30-point increase in their grade point average their first quarter of college.
African-American students who scored higher on their SAT -- 1,040 and above or 24 on the ACT -- were more likely to be successful in college if randomly paired with a white student, but black students who scored lower on the SAT did not see any improvement if they roomed with a white student.
The study also found that white students earned higher grade point averages when assigned to room with someone who was more successful academically.