Publication Date

Fall 2013

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)

Department

Counselor Education

Abstract

Current higher education trends show that while college enrollment is increasing, attrition rates are also on the rise. Literature on the topics of current college enrollment and completion data, college readiness, education policy, and the factors affecting retention was reviewed with a focus on differences in education rates based on race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status. A phenomenological study was completed to gain an understanding of the factors affecting the college retention of students in educational opportunity programs. These findings would serve to increase the postsecondary knowledge and college readiness of high school students at the researcher’s internship site. The qualitative method of conducting focus groups was utilized to gather perspectives from Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) and Higher Educational Opportunity Program (HEOP) counselors and directors on the topic of student retention. The results indicated five main categories of factors affecting retention rates: academic, financial, personal, familial, and health. Similarities were observed among five postsecondary institutions on perspectives regarding college readiness, program components, and the strengths of students in opportunity programs. Conclusions on postsecondary experience and college readiness are included. It is recommended that increased intervention and support services be provided for college-bound high school students, those transitioning to college, and those already enrolled.

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