School of Education


Doctor of Education in Curriculum & Instruction (EdD)


Gary Kuhne


College Retention, College Transition, First-year Seminars, Special Admissions Students, Institutional Commitment, Institutional Effectiveness


Education | Higher Education


College retention has been widely studied since it is an important indicator of institutional effectiveness; however, though higher education institutions have focused on factors that increase retention and graduation rates, many students who enter college do not persist to graduation. To increase the retention of all students, both regular admissions and special admissions, many institutions have implemented programs, like first-year seminars, to help students successfully academically and socially transition to college, which are important factors in first-year retention. The purpose of this correlational and causal comparative study was to determine the most significant predictor of first-year retention for special admissions students: high school grade point average, college entrance exam scores, or institutional commitment. The study also sought to determine the effectiveness of a first-year seminar on the first-year retention of special admissions students. Using logistic regression testing, the researcher tested the predictive value of the predictor variables to the outcome variable, college retention. The results indicated no statistical significance for high school grade point average, entrance exam scores, or institutional commitment to predict first-year retention. Using a Chi-Square test, the researcher tested for the differences in first-year retention between regular admission and special admission students. The results of this study present many implications for those who seek to increase first-year retention for academically at-risk students. It appears as if Tinto’s (1975) theory of departure was correct in presenting that persistence decisions are individual in nature based on independent student factors.