Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Education and Human Services


Curriculum & Instruction/Literacy Studies

Committee Chair

Scott Cottrell

Committee Co-Chair

Elizabeth A. Jones


This study examined four elements within the university environment that may provide a connection to the success of students' initial year on campus. The four elements are: freshman orientation course; academic advising and interaction with an advisor; involvement in student organizations, clubs, and athletics; and utilization of the university counseling center.;This study was based upon a survey administered during the months of March through May 2010 that examined the four areas of the university environment and the extent to which each student participated in each area. The population was 200 first-year students who had entered the university during the fall 2009 or spring 2010 semesters. Log-linear regression, chi-square, and frequency analysis were used to test four hypotheses related to student success and retention during the students' initial year.;Of the four null hypotheses tested, three were accepted, and one was rejected (freshman orientation course). Overall, there was high persistence for students who participated in each of the elements as well as for those who did not. Ultimately, none of the elements researched in this study were valid factors in predicting a student's persistence from their initial year to the fall 2010 semester.;Although this study did not identify those elements of the first-year experience that influence retention to the second year for UDC students, it does highlight the need for a better understanding of what students need in the academic environment in order to persist. Future research could include data relevant to student success in the course as opposed to mere enrollment in the course.;Future research may include a review of student achievement prior to enrollment. Further research on how to target services for retention may be a better way of improving retention and to have a better understanding of student satisfaction, student motivation, and student integration into the life of the institution.;Although the factors that help students to persist from their first semester to their second semester were not identified in this study, this does not mean that the exploration should not continue. Attention must be directed to the students' intent and expectations of the college experience and the services provided. For institutions, having a better understanding of what helps and what hinders students in their quest for success can assist in creating better road maps for students on their journey to degree completion.