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Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Terrence A. Tollefson

Committee Members

Elizabeth Ralston, Louise L. MacKay, Russell O. Mays


The purpose of this to determine the perceptions of senior North Carolina community college administrators regarding retention efforts in place on their campuses for at-risk students. The term "at-risk" was used to identify a student who was considered likely to perform academically at a level below that of average students and who was more likely to drop out than was an average student.

One-hundred-forty-four of 177 senior administrators (chief executive officers, chief academic officers, chief student development officers) in North Carolina community colleges completedthe survey instrument that provided the data for this study. The percentage of surveys returnedwas 81.4%. The SAS Institute program procedures were used for the analysis of data. An alphalevel of .05 was used for all statistical tests.

Results indicated that a variety of programs and strategies were being used by communitycolleges in North Carolina on efforts to retain at-risk students. Statistically significant differences in perceptions among senior administrators regarding the effectiveness of the retention strategies were found on six of the 34 strategies listed on the survey instrument. The study also identified the four strongest and the four weakest retention strategies as perceived by the senior administrators.

Conclusions of the study emphasized the difficulty of teaching, training, and retaining an increasing number of at-risk students accepted to North Carolina community colleges under an open-admissions policy. The study also determined that for community colleges in North Carolina to fulfill their egalitarian role in the state's educational efforts, at-risk students must be accepted, taught, and retained until their goals have been met.

Eight recommendations for improving the retention of at-risk students, and three recommendations for further research were presented by the study.

Document Type

Dissertation - restricted


Copyright by the authors.