Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Educational Leadership

Major Professor

Thomas Miller, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Michelle Bombaugh, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Amber Dumford, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John Ferron, Ph.D.


Co-curricular, Institution commitment, Retention, Socializing, Student departure


Incoming first year students have varying expectations for their college experience. As Florida public education budgets are more closely aligned with student persistence and graduation rates, it is vital institutions retain more first time in college students. The purpose of this study was to better understand how first year student college expectations on academic preparation, co-curricular involvement, socializing, and institutional commitment relate to persistence into the second year of college at one of Florida’s large, preeminent public research universities.

This quantitative study utilized the Beginning College Survey of Student Engagement (BCSSE) in order to better understand incoming student expectations. The study sample consisted of 3,723 first time in college students and was collected during orientation for the summer and fall 2015 cohort. Tinto’s Model of Student Departure (1975b), which served as the theoretical framework, states a student’s individual characteristics he/she possess when starting college influence his/her persistence as well as initial commitment to the institution and ultimately a degree. Logistic regression was used to determine the strength of the relationship between students’ expectations and persistence into the second year of college.

The overall findings of this study contribute to the increased understanding of first year student expectations and help administrators understand how to best support students. The findings illustrate a statistically significant relationship between high school GPA and persistence into the second year. Expected involvement in organized campus co-curricular activities, self-perception of academic preparation, and a first year student’s commitment to the institution were not found to be statistically significant to first year student persistence into the second year. Additional key findings and their implications for practice in higher education are presented along with recommendations for future research.