Persistence in college among African American students continues to remain low compared to persistence among White students. Often, the focus in examining this issue has been on institution-wide retention efforts, which can ignore socio-cultural elements that can influence the decisions of individual students to persist at an institution. However, persistence may rely on a combination of institutional factors and socio-cultural elements. The purpose of this article is to present findings from a research project that highlights institutional factors and socio-cultural elements that influence the persistence of African American students at a predominantly White institution. The findings from focus groups with African American students suggest that they persist despite “a cold” campus climate and ongoing experiences with racism and prejudice at Southern State University [pseudonym]. Written with N. Bray. Journal of College Orientation and Transition, 20(1), 5-18.