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Abstract

As universities seek to enhance student retention, a positive first year experience is critical for student success. The objective of this research is to determine whether an agricultural economics first-year seminar course improves retention rates of its undergraduate students. This course provides a unique opportunity for students to learn about the agricultural economics discipline, and also gain insights into what it takes to be a successful college student. Analysis examines whether departmental retention and graduation rates improve after course implementation in 1998, and compares departmental retention and graduation rates to those of the college and university. Qualitative analysis using student evaluations, senior exit interviews and student surveys also assess the impact of this course on student success. Results show that retention and graduation rates improve following course implementation. Retention, four-year graduation rates and five-year graduation rates for the Department exceed those for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and exceed the four-year graduation rates for the university.

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