The first few weeks of undergraduate education should be a student’s springboard into an academic career. But some students disappear even before colleges know they are there. Student retention has long been a focus of educational research and campus interventions, but few people have examined the earliest stages of students’ academic lives. That is changing. A handful of researchers are scrutinizing students’ early experiences on campus and devising interventions to simplify curricula requirements, increase the sense of belonging, and provide intensive advising during the first year. Innovation is taking place at community colleges to develop new ways to support students at risk of stopping out or leaving early without a degree.
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