restricted access First-Year Experience: A Comparison Study

In 2007 Southern Connecticut State University initiated a comprehensive First-Year Experience program to promote student engagement, improve academic competencies, and boost retention rates. The program included a revamped orientation, mandatory learning communities, increased academic support, and increased campus involvement. While all students participated in these components, only 50 percent of students were enrolled in a first-year seminar. Seminar participants demonstrated significantly higher rates of retention, higher GPAs, and more credits earned than nonseminar students. These effects were still evident after three years. This study identified a psychological-educational factor—future orientation—as an important factor for explaining the difference in outcomes.