A crucial factor aimed at improving college graduation rates is improving student satisfaction and success. Many universities around the country are focused on graduation rates and have developed new communications that will enhance student satisfaction, which will ultimately improve graduation rates (Duncan). There are many components that go into a satisfying college experience such as revamping advisement services and getting students more involved on campus. Increasing involvement rates will increase graduation rates and will also keep students from transferring to a different school (Kuh et al.,34). The United States used to have the highest college graduation rate in the world and today it ranks 12th among developed countries in the percentage of young adults with college degrees.
Transfer rates among college students in The United States are at a high, with more than one third of students transferring at least once during their academic careers (Leavitt). Long Island University Post has a four-year graduation rate of 49 percent. The percentage of full-time students who transferred out within the “normal time” to complete their program is 38 percent (College Navigator). While the criteria for an enjoyable college experience varies from student to student, certain statistics can be used to determine which schools seem to produce the highest number of satisfied students. Students usually want to improve with their course material because it makes them more satisfied, and in today’s society a mastery of learning is essential (Pink). Most students are more than capable of realizing academic and professional goals; however there are times that some students may experience difficulties whether academic or emotional. There are many resources on college campuses that are committed to helping students succeed.
Two focus groups were conducted on successive days. The research took place during common hour in Humanities Hall on November 9th and 10th of 2016. The first group of students were recruited by members of the research team. The majority of the group were female international students involved in sports. The rest of the respondents were a public relations major and a speech pathology major. The only male respondent was a business major and was on the baseball team. The second group was recruited by Monica Peralta, who is the CEO of student run businesses at LIU Post. The second group was made up of a variety of students in different years and different major programs. There were two female respondents studying public relations, one a senior and one a sophomore. Most the group was made up of male business majors either in their freshman or sophomore year. There was also a freshman female studying marketing, a freshman woman studying accounting and a sophomore woman studying sports marketing. All respondents in this group were involved with student run businesses on campus at LIU Post.
After the research was concluded, the research team developed key messages and objectives that defined different headlines for their findings. The first headline was most students were satisfied with their experience at LIU Post. Respondents agreed that because the school is smaller than other colleges and universities, there is a more of a personal connection in classrooms and with professors which further satisfied their decision in enrolling at LIU Post. The next headline was about the mixed feelings about the advisement services offered at LIU Post, which varied from each respondent. Respondents also discussed the roles of academic advisors and success coaches and how the differ in helping students on campus. Many students agreed that Post tuition was too high and not worth the money. Some even said the was only worth it with the help of a scholarship, otherwise they would have chosen a different school to enroll at. The next headline was about customer perceptions of the student run businesses. The first group of respondents had little familiarity with the student run businesses and some did not know that they even existed or how they were run. The second group of respondents were all involved in the student run businesses on campus. The last headline was that student involvement fluctuates on campus. All the respondents participated in an extracurricular activity on campus, either on a sports team or a member of Greek life. The primary focus of these questions were directed at satisfaction at LIU Post, with subset questions about academics, advisement, student involvement, and student run businesses.
Most respondents in the first group were satisfied with their decision to enroll at LIU Post and with the academics at the school. One female respondent said “The program that I’m in is really good and I’m learning a lot.” The same respondent also said since she was a commuter student she thought it would be tough to make friends but that she was surprised how many friends she made so quickly at Post. Another respondent said she was very satisfied with post and that it was the best school for her major in Speech Pathology. The only male respondent said that he wanted to go to a bigger school to have more people to interact with, but after his first two years at Post he started to love it.
The second group agreed and said LIU Post has met their expectations. A public relations major said “coming into school as a freshman I didn’t have much expectations and then I was going back and forth between staying here or going to a school like FIT but I was seeing that I was going to receive more benefits staying here at LIU Post because of the programs like student run businesses and getting opportunities that I wouldn’t normally have received if I was at a school like FIT or any other school.” Other respondents agreed that because the school is smaller than other colleges and universities, there is a more of a personal connection in classrooms and with professors. They know who you know and don’t see you as just a number. Three respondents in the group moved to Long Island from Texas and all agreed that Post has met their expectations and made the transition easy for them.
Respondents were not thrilled with the advisement services at LIU Post. In the first group, one female respondent said that the advisors associated with certain majors are helpful. She also said “none of the advisors really knew what they were doing to help me with my schedule and I had to go to the head of the department to make my schedule a couple of times.” The only male respondent and business major in the group said “I usually figure out my schedule on my own but the advisors still help me and plug in the classes to where they need to be and steer me in the right direction for the most part.” Respondents agreed that the head of your department was the person to go to and the person that helps you the most. When asked the difference between the roles of a success coach and an advisor, most respondents did not know there was one. Only one respondent had met with an advisor in Kumble Hall, while the rest of the respondents met with success coaches in the LIU promise office. A business major said, “Success coaches were helpful because they were able to plan each semester out and I thought the role of the advisor was to make sure we graduate on time.” One female member of the soccer team said, “The success coaches are always overbooked and it’s sometimes hard to get an appointment with them.”
In the second group, most of the respondents knew the difference between an advisor and a success coach. A public relations major said, “An advisor is basically someone where if a student is coming in to Post with more than 60 credits they’re going to go to Kumble Hall and go to an advisor and a success coach is when you’re an incoming freshman or a transfer student with under 30 credits and that’s where the difference is between them that I know of.” Every respondent had all met with success coaches and no one used an advisor for any help or questions they had. Another public relations major said:
“When I first came here I was given an advisor and my first impression of her was terrible and she didn’t seem like she cared. She wasn’t giving me her valid opinions, so in the spring semester of my freshman year they started to roll out the LIU Promise program which, is when I was given a success coach and since then I’ve been going to their office for all of my needs and all of my questions whether is financial aid, career planning, resumes, scheduling my classes.”
A lot of respondents had the same success coach and had to switch to a different one because he wasn’t giving them the time and attention they needed. Many respondents agreed that some students are getting a bad connotation of the promise program because they were stuck with a bad success coach which is unfortunate because all the work they do that’s is really helpful and beneficial.
Respondents in both groups agreed that the tuition at LIU Post is very high and some even said it’s not worth the money. A public relations major said that she would recommend LIU Post to students thinking about going to the school as long as their major was a recognized program at the school. She also said that students wanting to major in musical theatre might want to go to a school like NYU, where the musical theatre department is recognized and more dominant. “Post is so specific in public relations and that’s what drew me to come here, it wasn’t just communications, I didn’t want to learn everything about communications I just wanted to learn about public relations.”
In the second group, almost every respondent said the tuition at Post was high. A sports management major said “if it wasn’t for my scholarship I wouldn’t be here, this school I so expensive and it’s not worth it unless you have a really good scholarship.” Other respondents felt the school wastes a lot of money and puts money into unnecessary things instead of spending money on fixing up the dorms. Housing was another area that students agreed was too expensive for the conditions and cleanliness of the dorms.
The first group of respondents had little familiarity with the student run businesses and some did not know that they even existed or how they were run. A public relations major said she only found out about them at her transfer orientation and through word of mouth from students who work there. She also said, “I know they exist and I think it’s really cool that they are run by students I just wish I knew more about them so I could contribute.” Another respondent said “I only knew of Pioneer Nation because my roommate works there and it’s the only one people really go into to buy a Post sweatshirt.” A lot of students at LIU Post are unaware of the student run businesses on campus and unaware that they are run completely by students. The respondents agreed that they thought the student run businesses were beneficial to the students working in them because they teach real life skills, business skills, management skills and influence other students. The respondents were also unaware that the money made in the shops goes towards student scholarships, and said that would encourage them to go into them more often.
The second group of respondents were all involved in the student run businesses. When asked how the respondents first heard about the student run businesses, some respondents said they were told they had to participate to receive financial aid. One business major who was also the event manager for the student run business said, “The businesses would be more successful and known if the social media accounts were run better. Social media would bring more people to the student run businesses and as of now it’s not built up to what it should be. We have to get things done through word of mouth or flyers which is sometimes ineffective.” A sports management major said, “The social media the student run business have now reflects the way the businesses were perceived when they first started two years ago and I probably wouldn’t be involved if it wasn’t part of the scholarship.” When asked how the businesses are run the same respondent also said “Upper level management think they know what’s best for the stores and they don’t and then they put restrictions on us and it’s so stressful if were not living up to the image that they want because they don’t tell us what to do since it’s a ‘student run business’ and they only tell us when we mess up.”
While there were some negatives about the student run businesses, there are also a lot of benefits that come with working at one. A business major said “Student run businesses are a good resume builder and you make a lot of connections and meet a lot of people. You also learn a lot from it and experience the failures and successes of a business.” Another business major said, “If it’s executed properly it gives you as close to a real-world experience that you could possibly get. If you hire the right people and the right type of management and you have the upper level management supporting everyone I think it’s more beneficial.”
In the first group, all the respondents participated in an extracurricular activity on campus. Four were on a sports team and the other two were in a club related to their major. Most of them weren’t aware of any other clubs and organizations offered at LIU Post because the only way to be informed about them is through flyers around the school and word of mouth. All the respondents agreed that they would want to have more events, like concerts held on campus. Respondents also agreed that participating in extracurricular activities has helped them in their personal and educational lives by teaching them time management skills, leadership skills, and communications skills.
All respondents in the second group were involved with Greek life on campus and all agreed that Greek life has helped them in their personal life, teaching them leadership and communication skills while making friends for life. They also agreed that being involved on campus whether it’s a club, sport, or an organization gives you a sense of belonging. A female business major said, “It is very easy to get involved here which is extremely reassuring, I have friends that go to larger schools and they really struggle to find a club that really fit them and what they were looking for and we have such a wide variety here where we can easily join something that you will be comfortable in.” This respondent has only been at LIU Post for two months and she is already part of Greek life and the honors college which have helped her find her home away from home. The respondents also stated that Greek life will help them outside of college due to alumni connections, which gave them a sense of security.
Based on the results of this group, we recommend that LIU Post encourage student run businesses more around campus. Many students are unaware of the opportunity to work in one of the student run businesses and some are even unaware they exist. In order to emphasize excellence, LIU Post must redefine the nature of student involvement. From our research, we can conclude that students are more successful when involved in on campus events and activities. We also recommend that the student run businesses should be used as a competitive edge against other schools and universities in the area. Most schools on Long Island don’t offer students an opportunity to gain real world experience. In addition, we recommend that the school make students aware of the roles of a success coach. Most respondents thought that a success coach and an advisor served the same purpose and weren’t aware of the differences between the two. The promise program here at LIU Post needs to be promoted better be positioned more effectively. Students will gain knowledge from this program that they can not only use in a classroom but at a future job as well.
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