Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Department (Legacy)

Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology, Counseling, and College Student Personnel

Degree Program

Counseling and Personnel Services, PhD

Committee Chair

Cuyjet, Michael

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Hardesty, Patrick

Committee Member

Hirschy, Amy

Committee Member

Hughey, Aaron


Community college students; Student adjustment; Dropouts--Prevention


Student attrition has been a focus of college administrators for many years and will remain a critical concern for higher education (Bean, 1985; Tinto, 1987). The problem of student attrition is more severe at community colleges than at four-year institutions (Andreu, 2002; Lundberg, 2002; McCabe, 2000). Many institutions are implementing first-year seminar programs to increase persistence during the first year of college. The purpose of this study was to ascertain whether participating in a first-year seminar course will increase a student’s academic engagement and attachment to the environment, usage of campus resources and participation in campus events, use of the counseling center, and commitment to complete, as well as decrease outside barriers compared to students that do not participate in a first-year seminar course. This study utilized the theoretical frameworks from Tinto’s (1993) student integration model, Bean and Metzner’s (1985) student attrition model, and Braxton, Hirschy, and McClendon’s (2004) revised student attrition model. The study employed a cross-sectional posttestonly control design. Data were obtained from a convenience sample and an administered questionnaire. Descriptive and inferential statistical calculations were performed, including multivariate analyses of variance. The research showed that students attending a first-year seminar reported being more academically engaged (F[1, 246] = 33.1, p = .00) and attached to the environment (F[1, 246] = 32.9, p = .00). Students attending a first-year seminar reported using more campus resources (F[1, 246] = 72.9, p = .00), participating in more campus events (F[1, 246] = 21.8, p = .00), using more counseling services (F[1, 246] = 16.13, p = .00), and being more committed to complete (F[1, 246] = 6.7, p = .01]. Other findings included that African-American students reported greater benefits from the first-year seminar than Caucasian students and that greater benefits were reported by full-time students and older students (>25) than part-time and younger students (18-25). Limitations, implications for practice, and recommendations for future study are presented.