Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Vicki Underwood


Retention of 1st-year students is a challenge facing higher education and remains relevant for all stakeholders. Low persistence negatively affects individual students, institutions, and society as a whole. Nationally, a significant number of students have reported working while in college, particularly 1st-generation, low socioeconomic status (SES), and racial and ethnic minority students, those same groups who are at higher risk of experiencing low retention rates. Guided by Tinto's interactionalist model of student departure, binary logistic regression analyses of archival data were used in this retrospective prediction study. The focus was to determine how on-campus employment (OCE), 1st-generation, low-SES, and racial and ethnic minority student status were related to retention to the 2nd year for 1,582 first-time full-time students who entered a 4 year institution in the fall semesters of 2013 to 2015. Students who worked on campus during their 1st year of college were nearly twice as likely to be retained as those students who did not work on campus. Although living on campus was found to be a significant predictor of retention for students who did not work on campus during their 1st year in college, it was not a significant predictor of retention for students who did work on campus. Based on the findings, a white paper was developed, recommending that student employment practices on campus be modified such that 1st-year students, especially those who may not be living on campus, be made more aware of OCE opportunities. Creating a better understanding of the role OCE plays in student retention has positive social change implications for students, faculty members, staff members, and administrators needing to make informed decisions that increase student retention.