Correlates of persistence and achievement of individuals afforded student support services at a New England research university

Date of Completion

January 1996


Education, Administration|Education, Higher




0This study focused on the examination of correlates of success and failure of students afforded student support services in a New England Research University. As of 1995, over 700 colleges and universities offer Student Support Services (SSS) under provisions of the TRIO programs of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (Directory of TRIO Programs, 1995). TRIO consists of Upward Bound, Talent Search, Educational Opportunity Centers, and Student Support Services. SSS is designed to assure graduation, for first generation college students, many of whom have modest credentials by traditional standards, i.e., SATs and high school rank.^ TRIO programs enjoy great success but little is known about why they succeed. This research was designed to fill this gap in knowledge and serve as a model for TRIO personnel wishing to continuously improve their programs by identifying correlates of success and failure.^ Discriminant function (DFA) and regression analysis were applied to data for 111 students afforded SSS experiences at a New England Research University to identify correlates of persistence and achievement. The SSS experience included a pre-college summer institute consisting of courses in English, mathematics and study skills, and a full range of counseling and tutoring services and skill building activities over the students' college careers.^ Of 58 graduates, 88 percent completed degree requirements by the tenth semester and 12 percent by the twelfth semester. Of the remaining 53 some were still enrolled, while others had left the university for academic or non-academic reasons.^ DFA exercises revealed that high school rank, birth order and grades earned in a study skills course comprised the leading correlates of persistence and attrition. Results of the regression exercises indicated that high school rank, study skills course grade, birth order, and SATs scores comprised the leading correlates of grade point averages.^ Significantly, mother's education, a traditional correlate, failed to enter either the DFA or regression equations. Further, SATs ranked well down the list of importance in these exercises. These findings agree with those of Kinsella, (1995) and Norman, (1978). Likewise, it repudiates the views of Rotberg et al. who contended that students must have mothers with high levels of education and quite robust SATs to do well in college. The findings also constitute a ringing endorsement of the value of "front loading" (Devracics, 1990), a cornerstone of TRIO operations. ^