Higher Education Ph.D. Dissertations


Latino and Latina First Year College Students: Factors Important to Their Persistence

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Higher Education Administration

First Advisor

Fiona MacKinnon (Advisor)


The purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of first-year Latino/a college students' self-reported perceptions and experiences related to persistence and retention to the sophomore year. The focus was on Latino/a students who entered Bowling Green State University (BGSU), a mid-sized public regional state university in Ohio, in the fall semesters of 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001. Pertinent issues related to the first-year Latino/a college student experience were addressed in this study: (a) demographic descriptors of entering and continuing Latino/a college students, (b) perceptions of their educational experiences, (c) educational and social concerns, and (d) factors related to their persistence. To answer the research questions, this study used a combination of quantitative and qualitative research methodologies. Descriptive statistics, such as frequencies, chi-square tests, and percentages, as well as t-tests and logistic regression were used to analyze the quantitative data. For the four year period, a total of 313 Latino/a students enrolled for their first year at BGSU. Two questionnaires developed by the Office of Institutional Research to administer to all new students were used to collect data for these students. Demographic and financial aid information were collected for the 313 students while 170 completed the BGSU First Year Student Questionnaire and 107 completed the New Student Transition Questionnaire. Emergent theme development guided the analysis of the qualitative data by interviewing four students who returned to BGSU for their second year. The combined analysis of the results revealed that there were some quantitative variables for which there where some significant differences between the persisters and the nonpersisters. The major themes from the interviews indicated that the participants were able to make the necessary social and academic adjustments as first-year students in order to thrive in the campus environment. Various forms of financial assistance, consisting of scholarships from the University as well as organizations affiliated with the high schools, and grants, were important to the students' attendance and persistence. Recommendations made by the student participants and the researcher were included.