Dissertation

Leaving So Soon? the Attrition of Asian Pacific Islander Entry-level Student Affairs Professionals

This qualitative phenomenological study explored the attrition of 12 Asian Pacific Islander (API) entry-level student affairs professionals and how they made the decision to exit the field. the participants worked between two to five years full-time in an entry-level student affairs position and had a master’s degree in higher education or related field. on average, the participants worked three and a half years in the field of student affairs. Two participants identified as male, and ten participants identified as female. They ranged in age from 26 to 40 years old and varied in API ethnicity as well as generation status. Using the surprise and sense making theory (Louis, 1980) as the theoretical and conceptual framework, the study uncovered how the participants navigated the changes, contrasts, and surprises in their entry-level student affairs positions and made sense of their job experiences. the participants stated long hours, unsupportive supervisors, and unchallenging work as factors contributing to attrition, which have also been found in scholarly literature. Moreover, some participants shared that they left the field due to their family roles and obligations, which adds to the current literature. the participants stated how the API cultural values of familial piety, respect for elders, and harmony influenced their decision of leaving the field. No prior attrition studies focused specifically on the experiences of API entry-level professionals and how API cultural values can influence the decision-making process of leaving the student affairs profession. the attrition of API entry-level student affairs professionals should be seen as an important issue especially among supervisors of API entry-level student affairs professionals, graduate program administrators and faculty, and student affairs professionals. Recommendations include education for supervisors, graduate program curricula, and professional development opportunities. This study provided insight on the attrition of API entry-level student affairs professionals. the participants shared the changes, contrasts, and surprises they faced in their job positions and how they utilized their API cultural values to make sense of the experiences and determine their actions and behaviors. Over time, the participants felt that working in student affairs was no longer a good fit.

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