Support and Retention: Exploring the Role of Mentoring Relationships and Social Capital between College Students and Student Affairs Professionals

The California State University system recently announced a long-term Graduation Initiative to increase the six-year graduation rate by 8%. As a result, close attention is being focused on ways to retain students at risk of leaving the university prior to graduation. Although it is generally acknowledged that mentoring programs promote college student success, little is known about informal mentoring relationships between Student Affairs practitioners and students and the influence these relationships have on college student persistence. Using emotional intelligence and social capital theory as a framework to explain the importance of meaningful relationships, this dissertation explored the literature on mentoring as a means to promote college student persistence. A two-phased explanatory mixed methods study was conducted to explore elements of social capital and emotional intelligence in mentoring relationships. A conceptual framework, intersectional model and an ideal mentor condition mentors can utilize as a means to facilitate college student retention are proposed. Implications for practice as well as future considerations are suggested.