Student retention continues to be an issue across the United States, with only 69% of students remaining in their higher education institution until graduation. This number drops dramatically to 59.1% at two-year public schools, including technical schools. Past studies proved that proper advising is the cornerstone of improving student retention. In this phenomenological study, ten participants shared their experiences with advising at a technical college in the midwestern United States. Four common advisor-centered themes appeared from technical students’ advising experiences: these themes were flexibility, compassion, helpfulness, and the ability to provide constructive feedback.

There were significant differences in advising experiences between traditional students (18-24 years old) and non-traditional (25 years and older) students. Traditional students prefer a combination of proactive and developmental advising approaches, and non-traditional students prefer a combination of prescriptive and developmental advising approaches. Tinto’s Model of Student Departure indicates that quality student-advisor interactions can dramatically affect students’ overall satisfaction, and ultimately affect students’ decision to continue with the program until graduation.

Date Dissertation Completed


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctorate of Education


Education Studies

Dissertation Advisor

Rhea Walker

Dissertation Committee Members

Rhea Walker, Jerry Redman, Joel Traver



Mollner-Final Defense.pdf (452 kB)
Final Defense Presentation



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