The influence of a new student orientation program : first semester student success in a suburban community college
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Despite a long history of providing open-door access to students who might not otherwise have an opportunity to attend college, community colleges have not been as effective in fostering student success. To counter this trend, early intervention programs have been developed to facilitate academic and social integration for first semester students to improve student success. However, there is much that is not known about the influence of orientation programs at community colleges as an intervention strategy. Therefore, this study examines the influence of one new student orientation on first semester student success. Grounded in frameworks developed by Astin (1984, 1993, 1999), Tinto (1975, 1993), and Bean and Metzner (1985), this study examines the ability of a new student orientation to academically and socially integrate students into the culture of the institution. The following research questions are posed: • Does new student orientation influence student retention; • Does new student orientation influence student success; • Does new student orientation influence student persistence; • Does new student orientation facilitate a student’s social integration into the institution? • Does new student orientation facilitate a student’s academic integration into the institution? The focus of this case study is a publicly supported, two-year, comprehensive community college that is part of a multiple college district located in a suburban area outside of a major city in Texas. Participants are students who attended a new student orientation session. Employing a mixed methods research approach, data is gathered on student success, retention, persistence, and through interviews. Findings demonstrate that there was no significant difference in first semester retention for students who participated in a new student orientation and for those who did not. However, students who participated in orientation were more likely to be successful in their first semester in college and much more likely to re-enroll for their second semester at the institution. New student orientation also facilitated students’ social and academic integration into the institution. This study concludes with recommendations for program improvement, recommendations for further research, and a discussion of implications for community college policy and practice in developing new student orientation programs.
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