Impacts of visits to career services on persistence: A quantitative exploration

The purpose of this study was to determine whether Sonoma State University (SSU) undergraduate students who visit career services manifest significant differences in levels of persistence, or different persistence rates than students who choose not to go, or choose to go more or fewer times. The researcher used statistical tests to determine whether the relationships between the independent variables (demographic characteristics and number of visits to career services) and the dependent variable (persistence) were statistically significant. Student level archival data were gathered from all SSU undergraduates enrolled in 2018-2019. Tinto’s (1982) seminal work frames this research. Tinto found that for over 100 years, the national college departure rate has remained consistently 45%. This rate has changed little as first-time, full-degree seeking students enrolled in colleges with open enrollment have between a 52% to 40% departure rate (National Center for Education Statistics, 2019). Further, underrepresented students of color/minorities (URM), first-generation, and low-income students graduate from college at lower rates than their peers (California State University, n.d.-b). Increasing retention and graduation rates is an effort nearly all universities undertake (D. Chase, personal communication, March 21, 2019). In 2016, the California State University tasked each of the 23 CSU campuses with creating a plan to spearhead the campus’ efforts toward their assigned persistence targets and with closing the achievement gap (California State University, 2016a). There are many reasons students depart including academic irrelevancy and unpreparedness, challenges making decisions about what to study, boredom, and problems adjusting from high school, and unrealistic expectations about college. Career services offices may be able to help address these challenges. SSU’s career services office is tasked with and funded by efforts to increase persistence. The study found that participants who visited career services were somewhat more likely to persist than those who did not visit career services. The number of career services visits predict persistence. Students who visited once or twice were more likely to persist than students who did not visit. Further, students who visited three or more times were less likely to persist than those who visited once or twice or not at all. Most of the results for the various demographic groups were not statistically significant with the exception of Hispanic/Latino students, transfer students, URM students, and freshmen.