Resources Needed to Retain Undergraduate Adult Transfer Students: A Qualitative Descriptive Case Study

Resources Needed to Retain Undergraduate Adult Transfer Students: A Qualitative Descriptive Case Study

Author: 
Christal L. Claiborne
Program of study: 
D.B.A.
Abstract: 
Adult students, who are at least 24 years old, have work and family responsibilities, which affect their educational experience, which traditional students typically do not have. The specific problem has been that the average loss of revenue from student attrition exceeds the average cost to retain the students through graduation, which results in lack of financial resources available to universities. The purpose of this qualitative descriptive case study was to understand the strategies a university may implement to reduce the average loss of revenue due to adult transfer student attrition. Thomas (2002) developed the institutional habitus theory, which states that student retention impacts society, the institution, and the student, and the higher education institution is responsible to create an environment that is inclusive and meets the diverse needs of the student population. Data were gathered and triangulated through a survey of adult transfer students, a review of available resources and student services, and a focus group of university staff and faculty responsible for increasing native and transfer student retention. Student finance, academic advising, college and personal life integration, and access to onsite resources were the four themes that emerged from the data. The findings revealed that substantive opportunities exist for improvement supporting the needs of nontraditional students, thereby improving retention.
Dedication: 
First, I thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for granting me strength to persevere through this journey. I dedicate this dissertation to the most important people in my life starting with my son, Brent. You are my greatest work and I love you to life. Words cannot express my gratitude to you for your patience with me while I worked to accomplish this major milestone in my life. My prayer is that this accomplishment serves as inspiration to you that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. Thank you, Kiddo. I am grateful to my mom and dad, James and Tina Claiborne, for raising me to appreciate and value education and for always believing in me. Your love and support encouraged me to pursue and accomplish this dream. To my brother, Jimmy, thank you for providing much needed laughter in my life. Keep finding beauty and joy in art. To my Pastors Brian and Crystal Weatherspoon, I appreciate your prayers and spiritual guidance. It matters where you go to church and who speaks into your life. For that, I am thankful to God for planting me at Tabernacle Harvest Church. They say “It takes a village to raise a child.” For me, it has taken a village to support this doctoral student. There are some amazing women in my life without whom I would not have been able to make it through one of the most difficult times of my life. Special thanks to Brenda, Cosima, Sonya, Shan-Tay, Pat, Terry, and Mother Cathy. Ladies, I love you beyond measure.
Acknowledgements: 
I would like to acknowledge all of the adult students who balance work and life to achieve their education goals, inspire their children, and pursue their career goals. I would also like to acknowledge the dedicated higher education professionals who work every day to serve, encourage, and help adult students through their academic journeys. The academic community is such a rich and diverse environment for personal and professional growth. To Dr. Vicki Purslow, words will never be able to express how thankful I am for your guidance. Gracefully, you pushed me when I needed to be pushed and encouraged me when I needed encouragement. Your feedback and knowledge were invaluable to me through this process. I was privileged to have you as my chair. I would also like to thank my committee members, Dr. Julie Ballaro and Dr. Victor C. X. Wang. Dr. Ballaro, thank you for providing feedback and sending encouraging words to keep me motivated. Dr. Wang, thank you for sharing resources to help with my proposal and for your attention to detail.