The Issue Of First Year Student Retention Essay

The Issue Of First Year Student Retention Essay

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Unless you are thinking along the lines of a Steve Jobs or a Mark Zuckerburg, the phrase “college drop-out” will naturally bring about notions of failure. The question then becomes, who is failing here, the students or the universities? In this essay I will examine the issue of first-year student retention in American colleges and universities. I will then describe the main reasons for why this issue is taking place, and suggest ways in which this issue should be addressed. Finally I will explain why I feel passionately about this topic and how my career goal align with my interest in addressing this issue.
Why is first year student retention an important issue to be addressed? In his article titled, “Teaching and Advising First Year Students” Rory O’Brien McElwee states that “29 percent of students do not return for the second year of college at four-year institutions. At two-year colleges, 46 percent do not return after the first year” (ACT, 2009). This is an important issue facing higher education for three main reasons. First, failing to retain students hurts these institutions financially. When students drop out, the university must reconcile the fact that it will not be receiving the next three years’ worth of tuition that it had expected when the student initially enrolled. Along the same lines, high student drop-out rates after the first year damages the university’s reputation. Prospective students will feel more confident going to a school where the retention statistics are strong. A student will naturally wonder what it is about a given university that makes a high percentage of students not return after their first year. Finally, and most importantly, this is a pressing issue because institutions of hig...

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...ess the problem. I believe advisors are in a strong position to support first year students by paying attention to their individual student experience, recognizing their unfamiliarity with the campus and campus culture, and implementing developmental advising. My philosophy of student advising is one which involves a close student-advisor relationship and frequent interactions between the student and the advisor. I decided to pursue a career in higher education primarily because I want to help students succeed. I feel passionately that advisors are in a unique position to assist first-year students and to help them avoid the aforementioned reasons that lead to student attrition. I believe this is an issue that can be remedied, and I am excited to have the opportunity to learn more about this issue and many others at The University of North Carolina Wilmington.

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