The relationship of retention and first-year experience programs in southeastern public community colleges

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University of Alabama Libraries

Abstract Retention is a significant problem for community colleges (Barefoot, 2004) and one solution for counteracting that problem, according to the literature, is to implement a first-year experience program. Very few studies have considered community colleges, and even fewer have taken multiple institutions into account when comparing rates of retention in relation to first-year experience programs. This study compared 80 SACSCOC-accredited public community colleges in terms of their retention for the 2011-2012 academic year, their Carnegie classification, their state, whether or not they are rural or urban, whether or not they are a commuter campus, and which components of a first-year experience (if any) they offer. The components considered were a comprehensive first-year experience program, a first-year seminar, learning communities, orientation, academic advising, health and wellness programs, and campus activities. Surveys were sent to 266 community colleges and 80 were returned. Retention and Carnegie classification data were collected from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) Data Center. The data were then compared using SPSS Statistics Software Version 22. Significant findings of the study revealed that Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Virginia had higher rates of retention when orientation and academic advising were considered. North Carolina and Virginia had higher rates of retention when campus activities was considered. Commuter colleges and Rural-serving Large institutions had higher rates of retention when first-year seminar, orientation, academic advising, and campus activities were considered. Commuter institutions were found to have the most significance in the overall net effects.

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Higher education, Community college education