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Advising and student retention and persistence
NACADA Executive Director
issue of student retention and persistence has continued to grow
in importance throughout the history of higher education in our
country. Early studies (Astin, 1977) focused on the characteristics
of those students who did not persist and such studies were used
as evidence for higher admissions standards or more quality control
of recruitment. However, beginning the 1970's the research began
to focus on what were the reasons students remained enrolled and
how colleges and universities could make changes or develop programs
which would increase the retention of their students.
his research, Alexander Astin (1977,1993) determined that the persistence
or retention rate of students is greatly affected by the level and
quality of their interactions with peers as well as faculty and
staff. Tinto (1987) indicates that the factors in students dropping
or 'stopping' out include academic difficulty, adjustment problems,
lack of clear academic and career goals, uncertainty, lack of commitment,
poor integration with the college community, incongruence, and isolation.
Consequently, retention can be highly affected by enhancing student
interaction with campus personnel. Rendon (1995) indicates in her
study that two critical factors in students' decisions to remain
enrolled until the attainment of their goals are their successfully
making the transition to college aided by initial and extended orientation
and advisement programs and making positive connections with college
personnel during their first term of enrollment. Noel (1985) stated:
- It is the people who come face-to-face with students on a regular
basis who provide the positive growth experiences for students that
enable them to identify their goals and talents and learn how to
put them to use. The caring attitude of college personnel is viewed
as the most potent retention force on a campus (p. 17).
Advising is the only structured activity on the campus in which
all students have the opportunity for one-to-one interaction with
a concerned representative of the institution' (Habley, 1994).
Tinto (1987) indicates that effective retention programs have to
come understand, therefore, that academic advising is the very core
of successful institutional efforts to educate and retain students.
For this reason, academic advising, as described by Wes Habley,
should be viewed as the 'hub of the wheel' and not just one of the
various isolated services provided for students. Academic advisors
provide students with the needed connection to the various campus
services and supply the essential academic connection between these
services and the students. In addition, academic advisors offer
students the personal connection to the institution that the research
indicates is vital to student retention and student success.
successful academic advising programs cannot be solely responsible
for retention rates on a campus. As the hub, advising is one piece
of the retention puzzle. Retention efforts must focus on all components
of the campus and building strong and effective connections between
the advising program and the various components of campus. For example,
as financial concerns often affect student persistence, it is vital
that advisors build strong collaborations with the financial aid
departments on campus. Advisors need to be able to understand the
policies and procedures that affect students' financial aid as well
as have a clear understanding of how to refer effectively those
students in financial need.
student indecision as to major or career options is a primary factor
in student persistence, advising programs should have strong links
to the career services on campus as a part of any retention plan.
Advising and career services should be, if possible, interrelated
so that students see the connection between their academic planning
and their career goals. Several institutions, for example Rowan
University ( http://www2.rowan.edu/ ),
have combined advising and career services into one unit where career
counselors and academic advisors are cross trained to work with
students in both areas.
life is another area where essential collaborations are needed with
advising services in order to enhance student retention and persistence.
Several institutions, such as the University of Georgia ( http://www.uga.edu/ )and
Kansas State University ( http://www.ksu.edu ),
have established advising centers in residence halls to provide
students with on-site advising and assistance. This model is extremely
valuable in establishing a sense of community where advising is
viewed as an essential part of the community.
it should be clearly established that academic advising is the direct
link between the academic affairs and student affairs components
of a campus that can build a culture of student retention. Several
campuses, such as the College of Coastal Georgia ( http://www.ccga.edu/conted /),
have established committees or advisory boards for advising which
represent all constituencies of the campus, including faculty, students,
student affairs personnel, and staff. Often these committees report
to both the Vice Presidents for Academic Affairs and Student Affairs
establishing that campus-wide collaborations, with advising as the
central focus, is necessary for establishing effective retention
In these times of
financial cut backs, student retention, persistence, and success
will continue to be a major emphasis on our college campuses. Any
retention effort must clearly recognize the value of academic advising
to the success of students and the necessity that advising become
a central part of a collaborative campus-wide focus on the success
of our students.
by Charlie L. Nutt
NACADA Executive Director
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/Attrition information links within the Clearinghouse
Read More About It!
- The Role of academic advising in student persistence - NACADA Webcast recording
- Academic Advising's Integral Role in the Academic Success and Persistence of Students - NACADA Webcast recording
this resource using APA style as:
Charlie L. (2003). Academic advising and student retention and persistence from the NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic
Advising Resources Web site http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/tabid/3318/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/636/article.aspx