Students’ Views of the Promoters and Barriers to First Year College Persistence in Ireland: A Partnership Study
Navigating the transition to college and persisting is crucial to student college success. This research aims to explore the promoters and barriers to first year persistence, the student support needs in relation to these promoters and barriers, who students need the support from and when support is particularly needed. A participatory methodological approach was central to the study, carried out through a partnership with a cohort of 28 second year students to retrospectively explore the first-year college experience in Ireland. Participatory workshops conducted with the students identified persistence promoters, including being on the right course, gaining independence, academic supports, and connection to home. Barriers included being on the wrong course, anxiety, and lack of motivation to first year student persistence. These factors were further developed by the students to identify support solutions, personnel they need support from, and a three-pronged delivery solution, beginning in post-primary school through preparation for the transition to college. While confirming previous international studies, the research adds a novel understanding of the first-year student experience towards persistence and highlights the value and importance of giving students the space to share their original and detailed perspective of first year, as a student perspective supporting solutions for better higher educational outcomes.