Student retention has been a mystery within colleges and universities for decades. Administrators continue to devote resources to increase student persistence within their institutions. The first-year seminar is a popular intervention found at many colleges and universities. The purpose of this study was to explain how a first-year seminar affected the retention rate of first-time, traditional aged freshman at a medium-sized, 4-year, public university. Using the fall cohort of 2012 students (N=665), this study used a two-phase, sequential, explanatory mixed methods design. Using a stratified random sample and Tinto's (1987) theory of individual departure as the theoretical framework, this study found the students who reenrolled in the fall of 2013 who took the first-year seminar reenrolled at a higher percentage (63.49%; n=160) than the other strata. Furthermore, it was found the students who completed the first-year seminar had higher levels of academic skills and social integration than those who did not take the seminar. All of the strata were concerned about finances including tuition and fees, other costs associated with college, and disposable income. It was further concluded the university should offer more social options for students. It was also recommended that the university should consider requiring the first-year seminar for all freshman students. Moreover, given the level of financial strain it further recommended the university increase financial education to all students. The low response rate (8%; n=48) may have been due to the medium selected for data collection. Further discussion of the viability of the medium is considered.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Learning technologies; College attendance -- United States; College dropouts -- United States; Academic achievement -- United States; College student orientation -- United States

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Goodale, Monica;