Increasing at-risk students’ persistence and retention at a California community college

LatinX students in the United States are not graduating from college at the same rate as their counterparts, especially white students (Fry, 2002). Approximately 51% of Hispanic students graduate with a Bachelor's degree compared to 59% of white students (Kelly, Schneider, & Carey, 2010). Students’ persistence and retention is an essential and vital piece to the successful degree/transfer completion of students at California Community Colleges, yet statewide rates for a 2011-12 first-time student cohort is at an alarming 41.6% (California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, 2018). This qualitative research study examined the phenomenon of the experiences of five at-risk students who received Student Success and Support Program (SSSP) services while on academic probation and dismissal at one Northern California Community College. The research study also examined the experience of five Counselors who implemented SSSP services to students on academic probation and dismissal. Two research questions guided this study to examine the students’ and Counselors’ perceptions of follow-up core interventions of SSSP services. (a) What are students’ perceptions of the level of support of follow-up core interventions of Student Success & Support Program (SSSP) Services? (b) What are the Counselors’ perceptions of follow-up core interventions of Student Success & Support Program (SSSP) services? The researcher used the theoretical frameworks of Critical Race Theory, Latino/a Race Theory, and Social Capital Theory to guide the study. Findings of the study revealed the need for further collaboration between Counselors and instructional faculty to support the student holistically. Additionally, allocated time for Counselors is needed for them to strategically and intentionally develop efforts that will support students who are on academic probation and face dismissal. This study concludes with recommendations to develop a supportive and comprehensive support structure that includes faculty mentors, student instructional support, college skills workshops, supplies, and designated time for Counselors to assist students in successfully transitioning out of academic probation and dismissal into graduation and degree/transfer completion.