The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

Educational Administration and Leadership, K-12: Ed.D.


Educational Administration and Higher Education


School of Education

First Advisor

Kay Worner

Second Advisor

Roger Worner

Third Advisor

Frances Kayona

Fourth Advisor

David Lund

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

American Indian, Tribal College, Student Persistence


Recruitment of American Indian students into college and universities has been a long-standing challenge, but retaining these students, especially those from reservations, highlights an even greater challenge. According to Guillory and Wolverton (2008), “Although a select few have successfully matriculated through higher education’s colleges and universities, institutions cannot truthfully claim success when it comes to serving this unique population” (p. 58). American Indian students are more likely to feel academically inadequate, isolated, and alienated. Many times, academic inadequacy, isolation, marginalization, or other factors became too much for them to overcome. As a result, many American Indian students leave college before completing their degree program (Guillory, 2009).

The quantitative study was designed to examine factors that affected American Indian students’ persistence in higher education in a select northern Minnesota tribal college. The study sought information regarding the importance of first year support programs offered to students by the Tribal college that assisted them in their persistence in higher education experiences. Information was gathered in the fall of 2018 from 20 second-year American Indian students in a northern Minnesota tribal college through use of a 27-item survey instrument using Likert-type scales and open-ended comments.

The ongoing academic barriers or challenges identified by study participants included time, money, commute/transportation, and not being academically prepared for college courses that they continued to experience in completing their educational program.

The ongoing personal barriers or challenges identified by participants included finances, family, transportation, and behavior health. The challenges continue to present obstacles for students to overcome in their persistence in higher education. The study also revealed that students at the Tribal College in the study identified “first year experience course or seminar” as a factor specifically from their first year of college attendance that influenced them to persist into their second year.

Information from the study may assist Tribal College leaders in developing, maintaining, and implementing programs and services that positively influence American Indian students’ persistence in their college experiences.



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