The Part-Time Student Experience: Its Influence on Student Engagement, Perceptions, and Retention
Keywords:Adult Learners, Part-Time Students, Student Experiences, Student Challenges, School Affinity, Sense of Belonging, Retention
Part-time learners have had a history of campus isolation, fewer opportunities to engage on campus, and much higher attrition rates than their full-time peers (Jacoby, 2015; Rajasekhara & Hirsch, 2000). As a result, this study sought to uncover effective ways of enhancing the academic and social experiences of part-time learners and, in turn, increase retention rates. The attitudes, experiences, perceived needs, and challenges of 41 part-time students at a large Canadian community college during the fall 2015 semester were captured through an anonymous survey. From the data gathered, effective ways to enhance the college experiences of part-time students were identified and a relationship between school affinity and a part-time learner’s motivation to remain in school and persist to graduation were established. Recommendations resulting from this study centre on flexibility, availability, and student choice for post-secondary programs, courses, services, and social events aimed at part-time learners.
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