Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Dr. James Kahrs

Second Advisor

Dr. Deron Boyles

Third Advisor

Dr. Maurice Hobson


First-year experience programs on college and university campuses are designed to support the academic, social, and institutional transition needs of the first-year student. Retention on campuses has been an issue that educational leaders have been addressing for many years. On average, approximately 20% to 30% of first-year students will not return for the second year. A review of the literature shows that there is a positive impact of such programs on a student’s achievement and retention on college campuses. It also reflects the various factors outside of an institution’s control that can have an impact on the student’s achievement. This qualitative study included one case study that analyzed the experiences of thirteen (13) first-year students who participated in a first-year experience program consisting of an extended orientation camp and an intentional programming model on large, public, 4-year, urban campus in the Southern United States. Findings and discussion from the study revealed: (a) the perceptions of impact that first-year programs have on a student’s belonging, adjustment, success, and support after the first semester of college; and (b) common themes and trends throughout the first six weeks of the participants related to their perceptions of belonging, adjustment, success, and support. Implications of this study also prescribe future research that could explore specific resources, learning outcomes, and retention rates across other urban institutions.