chapter  2
15 Pages

A Pre-Orientation Retreat to Increase Retention and Develop Competence

WithKelly Carter Merrill

The initial invitation targeted students of color, community college transfer students, and first-generation students—students who typically have lower retention rates in colleges and universities. Guiding theories served to inform the design, implementation, and assessment of Launch, and were selected based on what was known about issues of retention and persistence as reported in the literature. Activities included reflection components to encourage Launch participants to deconstruct challenges, obstacles, or unmet expectations in a manner that facilitates the desire to strengthen skills and persevere. Based on the overarching goal of Launch and the literature on retention, the goals related to intellectual competence, perseverance as it relates to academic challenges, and creating a community of peers that protect diversity also are important. The staff members determined that near-constant attention needed to be paid to messaging in promotional materials and program design considerations to make explicit the overarching goal, developmental goals, and outcomes of the retreat—and the hopeful nature of Launch.