Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Committee Chair

John Balls


Analyzing the “sophomore slump” has plagued researchers for decades. This consultancy project analyzed some quantitative and qualitative data from a small, private university and developed key recommendations to help address sophomore attrition. The analysis contained a quantitative component which led to the collection of student profiles that were used to examine specific phenomenon from a more qualitative perspective. Through the process, the project underwent constant revision but maintained the initial scope and boundaries. Work plans, financial assessments, and risk mitigation plans were developed throughout the lifecycle of the project and communicated to key stakeholders. Several challenges included the collection of qualitative data as well as waning support from the university administration concerning the effectiveness of retention planning. The resulting recommendations included (1) reexamining the pre-nursing pathway and academic advising, (2) releasing non-scholarship athletes from all the requirements of scholarship athletes, particularly while out of season, (3) reevaluation of words like “home” and “family” as part of university marketing, (4) releasing additional discretionary financial aid sums to target sophomores, and (5) reinvesting in personnel and infrastructure for the Office of Student Success.

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