Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education


Educational Services and Leadership


College of Education


McElwee, Rory

Committee Member 1

Chaskes, Jay

Committee Member 2

Carrigan, William


Athlete, Expectations, Experience, First-year, Qualitative, Transition


College athletes; College freshmen; Dropouts--Prevention


Higher Education


Retaining students in higher education is a continual process, in need of constant evaluation, to ensure best practices are being implemented to meet the needs of the students. When implementing retention and transition programs, colleges and universities must understand the varying needs, particularly for those who are members of a subgroup within the traditional population (Bean & Metzner, 1985). One subgroup, in particular, that could benefit from a more focused transitional experience during their first-year at college are student athletes (Crom, Warren, Clark, Marolla, & Gerber, 2009).

The purpose of this study was to better understand the first-year experience at Rowan University through the lens of the student athlete. The study was qualitative in nature and collected data through the use of open-ended interview questions. Currently, Rowan University does little to support the needs specific to the student athlete population and often groups them into transition programs offered to the traditional student body. Once analyzed, the data suggests that first-year student athletes struggle with time management, lack awareness of university resources, are socially disconnected from the campus community, and relate athletic success to retention. To better serve the needs of this population, Rowan University could develop and implement a summer workshop program specifically for incoming student athletes.