Increasing Persistence: Research-based Strategiesfor College Student Success
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Praise for Increasing Persistence

"What a gem! This is a requisite text for enrollment practitioners, higher education scholars, and progressive public policy makers dedicated to understanding the processes involved in increasing student retention and success rates. The authors' data-focused approach identifies many of the best practices and fundamental efforts that can make a positive impact at most colleges and universities. Increasing Persistence provides an ideal organizational framework for developing student retention plans. —Jay W. Goff, vice president of enrollment and retention management, Saint Louis University

"Because community colleges have made student persistence to graduation or career certification a national priority, they will find this book an invaluable resource for identifying and implementing practices that have a documented impact on student success." —James Hudgins, president emeritus, South Carolina Technical/Community College System; director, Community College leadership Alliance, University of South Carolina

"The authors have crafted a highly-readable and much-needed synthesis of the complex literature on college student persistence and completion, and present a fresh model for student success that will be of interest to applied practitioners. This book is not only critical reading for all stakeholders in higher education, but also an easily accessible required text for graduate students of the discipline." —Toni Strollo Holbrook, associate dean of the college, Rollins College

"The authors provide a focused and contextualized view of college student success that tells us not only what matters but also reminds us why it matters to individual students, educators, and society as whole." —Margot Saltonstall, associate director for assessment enrollment management and student affairs, Northern Arizona University


Wesley R. Habley is principal associate in educational services and coordinator of State Organizations at ACT, Inc. He is also coeditor of Academic Advising: A Comprehensive Handbook from Jossey-Bass.

Jennifer L. Bloom is clinical professor and director of the Master's Degree Program in Higher Education and Student Affairs at the University of South Carolina.

Steve Robbins is principal research scientist in the Center for Academic and Workforce Readiness and Success. Formerly, Robbins served as vice president of research at ACT, and as professor and chair of Psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University.


Preface xiii

The Authors xxix

Acknowledgments xxxiii

Section 1: What Do We Know

About Retention and Persistence to Degree? 1

1 Defining, Refining Perspectives on Student Success 3

2 Overview of Theoretical Perspectives on Student Success 19

Section 2: The Case for Intensified Campus Efforts 41

3 The Demographic Challenge 43

4 Public and Private Benefits of College 63

5 Retention or Recruitment: Examining the Return on Investment 79

Section 3: Core Components of Student Success 99

6 Institutional Culture and Student Engagement 101

7 Academic Preparation 117

8 Psychosocial Characteristics 137

9 Career Development 161

10 Assessing the Impact of Academic, Psychosocial, and Career Development Factors on College Student Success 181

Section 4: Proven Student Success Practices 211

11 Historical Perspective on What Works in Student Retention 213

12 Assessment and Course Placement 235

13 Development Education Initiatives 255

14 Academic Advising 283

15 First-Year Transition Programs 311

Section 5: Making Student Success a Priority 335

16 Expanding the Retention Framework: Implications for Public and Institutional Policy 337

17 Creating a Student Success Culture 363

18 Leading the Campus to Student Success 383


A What Works in Student Retention, 2004 Survey 397

B What Works in Student Retention? 411

References 425

Name Index 453

Subject Index 459