Retention efforts for first-year hospitality students at a career-focused institution

Date of Completion

January 2004


Education, Higher




The retention of first year students in institutions of higher education has been a much studied topic. Much of the research points to the academic and social integration of students into the fabric of the institution (Tinto, 1987, 1993; Astin, 1975, 1984, 1987). The research is clear that incorporating programs to enhance student participation and integration supports retention (Astin, 1984, 1993; Bank et al., 1994; Barefoot, 1993; Barefoot & Gardner, 1993; Braxton, 1992; Gardner and others, 1990; Levitz & Noel, 1989; Pascarella et al., 1986; Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991). ^ If the key elements for student persistence are the student's linking with the institution, it would not only be at the institutional level, but also at the college or department level. The present study sought to determine the effectiveness of a faculty advising program for career focused individuals in the hospitality field. The unique positioning of the institution as a “career-focused” institution differentiated it from other institutions in the study of the literature on retention. The entering classes of 2001 and 2002 became part of a concentrated program of faculty linkage and advisement as part of their program of study. Students were assigned to classes taught by their advisor for each of the three terms of their first year. Additionally, special programs were delivered to the students to enhance their introduction to the college and campus. ^ The results show that first-year students enrolled in the Hospitality College for the 2001 and 2002 persisted at a higher rate than their predecessors, and also at a higher rate than students enrolled in different colleges at the same institution. There was little relationship to the literature that supported student persistence. The lack of a required standardized test as an entrance requirement reduced the amount of data available measure the persistence against. High school GPA and class rank did neither support nor failed to support the outcome of student persistence as was reported by prior research as an indicator of persistence. The entire population of first-year students was included in the study and the retention exceeded the goals set for the program. ^