American Indian/Alaska Native College Student Retention Strategies

This article compares beliefs about successful student retention strategies between American Indian/Alaska Native students and postsecondary institutional representatives. While institutional representatives identified financial support as a primary motivator for college completion, AI/AN students identified the desire to live up to family expectations as a high persistence factor. AI/AN students also identified campus-based supports that create “community” as another factor supporting persistence. Both students and institutional representatives agreed that a lack of academic preparation from K–12 schooling create barriers for students once enrolled in a university.

The author makes three recommendations for supporting and retaining AI/AN students: create programs that support AI/AN students in maintaining a strong connection between their schools and their tribal communities; provide social and financial supports for students who are single parents or those who have families; and provide academic assistance through peer mentoring programs that connect AI/AN students to one another.    

Content Comments 

While this publication addresses postsecondary student retention strategies, it also contains information pertinent to K-12 education - in particular a lack of adequate K-12 preparation for AI/AN student postsecondary success.

The author uses reasonable qualitative methodology to explore the differences in beliefs between the two subject groups, AI/AN college students and university representatives from three colleges in Northwest states. While the differences could be explored in greater detail, the findings highlight the disparate but important beliefs held by these two groups of tudent. The recommended strategies have potential utility for both K-12 and postsecondary educators, although the author might have placed greater emphasis on actions for reducing weak AI/AN academic K-12 preparation. Communications quality is good. The author generally avoids overly long sentences and an overabundance of educational jargon. 

Evidence of effectiveness is unknown, but the content, communications quality, and utility suggest a potential positive impact on AI/AN postsecondary persistence.