Open admissions: The role of student support services in student success
This study examined how the College Discovery (CD) Program at The City University of New York (CUNY) operates at LaGuardia Community College and how it impacts on the retention of students in the program, who are typically from low socio-economic backgrounds. Given the debates that continue regarding student access to and retention within urban community colleges, there is a need to gain a better understanding of how support services can aid academically and economically disadvantaged students to succeed.
The research consisted of a case study of the CD program at LaGuardia Community College. Program components and their history were described based on college and CUNY documents, and their functioning and success were assessed based on quantitative data from the same sources and on original interview data collected from college and CUNY faculty and administrators, both within and outside the CD program, as well as from CD students. These data were interpreted using qualitative thematic analysis and Richardson and Skinner's (1991) Model of Institutional Adaptation. The study found that the CD program services are clustered in stages of student experience at the institution, which allows those responsible for delivering services to concentrate on issues related to students' individual challenges, transition to college, integration into the institution, and adaptation to the culture of the college. The study also supported the findings of the literature review that providing academically and economically disadvantaged students with admissions testing and screening, remedial education, orientation to college, financial aid, counseling, academic advising, an interactive teaching environment, learning assistance, and tutoring and mentoring can be critical to their success.
One key implication for practice of the study's findings is that institutions providing access to students who are academically under prepared should provide students with the essential support services identified. When practitioners are enlightened as to how to help students achieve their goals, this contributes to improving student success in terms of retention and graduation rates. Hence, the study highlights the importance of key support services that can improve student success while increasing access to disadvantaged groups of students, thus advancing both institutional outcomes and educational equality.
0514: School administration
0745: Higher education