Title

Correlates of persistence and achievement of special program students at a New England regional state university

Date of Completion

January 1997

Keywords

Education, Administration|Education, Higher

Degree

Ph.D.

Abstract

This study examined predictors of persistence and achievement of students enrolled in a special admission student program at a New England regional state university. To address the underrepresentation of first generation, low income students, many colleges have modified admissions criteria and offer support services. In 1996 over 700 colleges and universities offered Student Support Services (SSS). SSS is designed to assure the success of eligible students enrolled in higher education.^ The so called TRIO programs, created under the Higher Education Act of 1965 include Upward Bound, Talent Search, Student Support Services, Educational Opportunity Centers and the McNair programs. While these programs have been highly successful, more research is needed which identifies why they succeed. This study attempted to identify correlates of persistence and success of students enrolled in a student support service program.^ Data were collected on students' high school rank, SAT scores, scores on a study strategies inventory and on persistence and achievement to the freshman and sophomore years. Discriminant function analysis was employed to identify predictors of persistence, and stepwise regression analysis was employed to identify predictors of achievement. The freshman cumulative grade point average emerged as the single significant predictor of retention to the sophomore year. Precollege summer program grades, along with scores on the motivation scale of the study strategies inventory and the high school rank in class emerged as effective predictors of achievement. Birth order had its impact in high school, as almost 75% of the students recommended for the program were firstborns.^ Significantly, the rate of persistence to the sophomore year of the sample exceeded that of the "regular" admissions students at the university. These findings support the notion of "frontloading" services for freshmen and concur with the findings of Kinsella (1994) and Norman (1978). SAT scores failed to predict persistence or achievement for the sample; this supports research findings which indicate that SAT scores are not a good predictor of success for minority and first generation college students. ^