Research indicates that programs designed to target first year students increase their likelihood of success during that year and their chances of completing an undergraduate education (Bureau & Rromrey, 1994; Conner & Colton, 1999). Theoretically, such programs should help in part because they foster integration into campus communities and help align personal goals with institutional goals. In an effort to increase retention and achievement of first year students, the University of South Alabama implemented a program for resident first year students called ESSENCE in the fall of 1998. The purpose of this study is to measure the effects of that program on student success. Specifically we are interested in assessing the effects of the program on GPAs and graduation rates. In multivariate analyses, we compare GPAs and graduation rates for resident ESSENCE students, resident non-ESSENCE students, and non-resident students controlling for other predictors of success. We find that ESSENCE improves GPAs and the likelihood of graduating in five years relative to other experiences, even when controlling for other factors.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/james_daniel_lee/3/