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Study on First-Year Orientation and Retention

March 3, 2017

Incoming first-year students at Michigan State University who felt a connection with the university during orientation were more likely to fit in and want to stay enrolled at the university, particularly students from ethnic minority groups.

Those are the findings of a study published by the Journal of Vocational Behavior, which was based on surveys of 1,935 Michigan State students.

“We found that students can develop a sense of fitting in before they even walk into class, and that feeling is important down the line. It leads to the students feeling like their skills meet academic demands and also leads to them wanting to stick around,” Joshua Prasad, the study's lead author and a master’s student in the university's psychology department, said in a written statement. “For universities that are looking to foster a diverse student body, this is an avenue they can actually act on. They can use that summer before students first come to campus to help develop that sense of fitting in.”

Ethnic minority students were less likely to report feeling a connection to the university. But those who did had a "stronger link to feelings of fitting in and wanting to remain at the university after one semester," the study found.

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Paul Fain

Paul Fain, Contributing Editor, came to Inside Higher Ed in September 2011, after a six-year stint covering leadership and finance for The Chronicle of Higher Education. Paul has also worked in higher ed P.R., with Widmeyer Communications, but couldn't stay away from reporting. A former staff writer for C-VILLE Weekly, a newspaper in Charlottesville, Va., Paul has written for The New York Times, Washington City Paper and Mother Jones. He's won a few journalism awards, including one for beat reporting from the Education Writers Association and the Dick Schaap Excellence in Sports Journalism Award. Paul got hooked on journalism while working too many hours at The Review, the student newspaper at the University of Delaware, where he earned a degree in political science in 1996. A native of Dayton, Ohio, and a long-suffering fan of the Cincinnati Bengals, Fain plays guitar in a band with more possible names than polished songs.

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