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ERIC Number: ED552719
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 196
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-2679-6983-5
A Brand New World: An Evaluation and Recommendations for the New Graduate Student Connect Program at the University of Delaware
Sykes, Talia
ProQuest LLC, D.Ed. Dissertation, University of Delaware
Research indicates there are major academic, psychological, social, and/or cultural challenges that graduate students face as they enter graduate programs and progress toward graduation. The literature review provided information on the various characteristics, needs, and challenges of graduate students and the support systems they need while seeking advanced degrees. Researchers suggest new graduate students must cope with pressure associated with new roles, courses of study, employment, and work-life balance (Gole & Dore, 2001; Tinto, 1993). However, many minority and international graduate students face additional struggles due to a lack of representation, psychological distress, language barriers, a lack of cultural activities, and/or cultural adjustment (Zimmerman, 1995; Kim, 2001; Steele, 2003). Socialization and mentorship play a major role in helping graduate students adjust and transition successfully to graduate life, living, learning, and leaving. The literature reveals the importance of having campus-wide support opportunities to help these students in the forms of mentorship and on-going programming (Antony, 2002; Baird, 1990; Mortimer & Simmons, 1978; Smith, 2004). During July 2011, the University of Delaware's Office of Graduate and Professional Education (OGPE) implemented a pilot peer mentoring program. The OGPE created the New Graduate StUDent Connect Program to help alleviate various stresses and challenges many incoming graduate students face during their first-semester. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the Connect Program and other supports available to new graduate students at the University of Delaware (UD) in an effort to improve the overall graduate student experience through recommended services and supports. The mixed method data collection for this study provided a unique understanding of the various experiences of new and returning graduate students at UD. A group of Fall 2011 newly admitted, full-time graduate students enrolled within UD twelve academic programs were surveyed on the various aspects of their adjustments, challenges, needs, and supports during their first-semester at UD. Additionally, nine returning graduate students and the acting Director of Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) were interviewed individually to also provide insight and feedback on the UD graduate student experience. Finally, the websites of four UD institutional peers were reviewed to learn about the support services they provide new and returning graduate students. The findings from a 104 participant survey (with a 70% response rate) and 10 interviews presented insight into the living and learning experiences of new and continuing graduate students at UD as well as the needs for improvement. Some key challenges from surveyed students and interviewed participants included academic (overwhelming workload, funding, and the program design) and social (lack of programming, friends, and UD Student Life services) issues. However, these academic and social challenges were especially heightened for international and minority graduate students due to a lack of representation, commonalities, communication, and support. The literature review, results and findings, and review of other key institutions helped guide recommendations for improving the living and learning experiences of UD graduate students. The presented recommendations were broken down by academic, social, and cultural improvements to address the four research questions in this study with special emphasis on UD Academic and Student Life Divisions, the Office of International Students and Scholars, and the Office of Graduate and Professional Education. A detailed action plan to improve the Connect Program's structure and sustainability was also recommended. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Delaware