First-year college student interest in second-year retention programs : an examination of applicant profiles and motivations
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Many higher education institutions offer first-year college students the opportunity to participate in second-year retention programs in order to support the persistence of college students who seek assistance in navigating the college experience. Research regarding the traits that characterize second-year students and what the second-year experience entails is still in progress. (Braxton, 2000; Hunter et al. 2009; Schaller, 2000, 2005, 2010; Schreiner & Pattengale, 2000). While the existing research has built the foundation for research around the second-year experience, additional research is required to compose a truly holistic picture of the second-year experience. The purpose of this study is to identify the characteristics of first-year students who choose to apply to second-year retention programs and why they choose to apply to such programs. The study will address three research questions. 1. What are the characteristics of students who apply to participate in a second-year retention program? 2. What student noncognitive variables reflect which students apply to participate in a second-year retention program? 3. What factors do first-year students consider when determining whether or not they will participate in a second-year retention program? A mixed methods explanatory design (Cresswell & Plano-Clark, 2007) was implemented to investigate the research questions. The research population was composed of 337 first-year college students, primarily first generation students and students of color, eligible for participation in a second-year retention program at a large research institution in the western United States. This study hopes to contribute to a greater understanding of the characteristics of first-year students who choose to apply to participate in second-year retention programs and why they choose to apply. The findings can inform universities as to how they can offer more effective support of second-year students in a manner relevant to their needs.