Date of Conferral







Susan Marcus


College student persistence has been the focus of much research for over 40 years, but there has been little progress in increasing the rate of student persistence. Many scholars have focused on specific student populations in particular institutional types. While the fastest growing institutional type has been the 2-year for-profit college serving primarily underserved communities, the experience of persistence among students of this population has not been studied. Accordingly, this study was conducted to explore, through a social cognitive lens, the persistence experiences of students from minority urban communities attending 2-year for-profit colleges. Interpretive phenomenological analysis was used to analyze the data from interviews with 4 students from various schools around the country. Four common themes were found: social support, independence, growth, and conflict. All the students cited family as relevant but also as a source of conflict. All the students also expressed the importance of faculty for academic success, engagement, and fun. Participants did not mention any engagement or concern around financial policies, and social integration outside the classroom was valued more than the in-classroom experience. The results of this study will be shared to enhance understanding of persistence in 2-year schools. Insights from this study can help administrators, advisors, and instructors design and implement programs to be more closely aligned with the needs of this important student population.