First-year programming on most campuses originated from the topic of retention of students to the second year of college and persistence to graduation. Specific reasons are related to resources and the direct relationship between retention to enrollment and institutional income. With that in mind, most first-year program mission statements are framed around increasing academic performance and retention. Ball State, University of South Carolina, and Appalachian State are among those recognized as Institutions of Excellence in the First College Year. Their first-year program mission statements reflect this retention theme.
Ball State University’s Freshman Connections mission is to accelerate the process for new students to learn and succeed at Ball State. The program “seeks to deepen the contact new students have with faculty, staff, and fellow students in order to improve learning and persistence to graduation”. Fostering academic success, helping students to discover and connect with the university, and preparing student for responsible lives are the tenets of the University of South Carolina’s first-year learning outcomes. They fall under the overarching goal of helping new students make a successful transition, both academically and personally. Appalachian State’s Watauga Community is “structured to develop students’ expertise in the skills to evaluate and integrate relevant and quality information from different knowledge sources through individual and collaborative processes”. With focuses on connections and building community membership, each of these first-year mission goals strives to enhance retention and promote student success.