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Increasing Persistence: Research-based Strategies for College Student Success

ISBN: 978-0-470-88843-8
512 pages
September 2012, Jossey-Bass
Increasing Persistence: Research-based Strategies for College Student Success (0470888431) cover image


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

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Table of Contents

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

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Author Information

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.

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Press Release

September 10, 2012
Increasing Persistence: What Really Works In Student Retention

Increasing Persistence

Research-based Strategies for College Student Success

For the last 50 years, the topic of college student persistence has been a central one of research, theory, and analysis.  Yet, in spite of all we have learned, neither first to second year retention rates nor college completion rates have budged appreciably in more than four decades. Only one out of every three individuals who enter American higher education for the first time remains enrolled at the same institution one year later.

How does colleges and universities increase their rentiontion rates?  The answer, by INCREASING PERSISTENCE (September 2012; 978-0-470-88843-8; Jossey-Bass/also available in e-format).

Anchored by ACT, Inc.’s 2010 What Works in Student Retention survey of 1,100 colleges and universities, the book provides insights on the causes of attrition and identifies retention interventions most likely to enhance student persistence and offers decision-makers and practitioners with evidence-based interventions and best practices for improving student success in college.

INCREASING PERSISTANCE provides an organizational blueprint for practicing the four intervention strategies proven to make a difference with student retention and persistence to degree: assessment and course placement, developmental education, academic advising, and first-year transition programs.  

It helps higher educators create a student success culture, and covers a variety of institutions: four-year public and private, community colleges, and vocational-technical schools.

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