Increasing Fall-to-Spring Persistence among New Students
In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.”
Earning a college degree plays a critical role in an individual’s ability to be successful in the increasingly competitive global marketplace. For some students, persevering long enough to obtain a degree is a tremendous challenge.
Throughout California’s 112 Community Colleges, 50% of freshmen will drop out within their first year. Among these dropouts, 42% will be recent high school graduates (Center for Student Success, 2005; 2007). There is an urgent need for California Community College educators and administrators to implement programs that will increase the fall-to-spring persistence of entry students.
Research studies suggest that a students’ academic preparedness is a key factor in college retention. Well-prepared students are much more likely to persist semester to semester. In addition, research has shown the importance of student engagement and connectedness to the campus community. Community colleges need to offer programs and services that integrate new students into the college community so that they feel a part of the campus culture from the very outset.
Many community colleges are adopting programs and services that have proven effectiveness in increasing persistence among new students. These programs include mandatory orientation and assessment, integration of intrusive counseling practices in Basic Skills courses, embedding foundational skills (i.e., reading and study techniques), cohort programs, multicultural and learning resource centers, and learning communities.