This paper reports the findings of a pilot study conducted at a regional university in Australia involving a pre-commencement interview strategy that aimed to better support first-year students transitioning into an undergraduate nursing program. The aim of the study was to determine the efficacy of the approach and inform the development of more effective transition and retention strategies (STARS) at the institutional level. The study was informed by Kalsbeek’s (2013) ‘4 Ps’ framework for student retention, which identifies student profile, progress through their studies, university processes and alignment between a university’s promises and the student experience of its delivery on those promises as critical components of an all-of-institution approach to improving student retention and success. An additional ‘P’, preparedness, was identified as another important dimension, recognising that student preparedness for study is a vital component of an effective transition and retention strategy. The findings viewed through the lens of the expanded ‘5Ps’ framework highlight the potential of the approach as an institutional strategy for improving student transition, retention and success.