Reaching over a 90% Retention Rate in Engineering at a Large Metropolitan University where over 30% of its Students are Pell Grant Eligible by Re-Inventing the First Year Seminar and Student Support Programs.
Universities are focusing extensively on how to retain students at the university level and in engineering majors. First year students encounter much stress as they navigate living for the first time away from home, separating from their parents, and encountering a rigorous curriculum. Attachment theory has become the foremost theory in understanding affect regulation especially under stress. Students with insecure attachment styles tend to have deficits in social self-efficacy and tend to use maladaptive copy strategies to handle stress. Students with insecure attachments styles tend to have higher levels of depression and anxiety which negatively impacts their academic performance. At this university, engineering students who receive less than a 2.00 GPA their first semester in college averaged about a 30% first year retention rate and a 9% to 16% six-year graduation rate. Over 30% of the students are Pell grant eligible and the college has to accept nearly everyone into the College. This study looked at attempts at reducing stress in first year students in hopes to increase their first semester GPA by increasing advisor contacts and support, and by re-inventing how the first year seminar so that it helps to quickly identify at-risk students immediately. Initial findings showed a decrease in the percentage of students receiving less than a 2.00 GPA their first semester and a year later the college of engineering reached a 90.4% retention rate for the first time.
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