Person -environment fit and college freshmen retention: Effects of congruence between the precollegiate and collegiate settings

Charles Anthony Boone, Fordham University


This study examined collegiate person-environment fit as a function of congruence between students' home and high school environments, and the collegiate setting. A specific college environment, an urban, Jesuit Catholic university, and a specific student sample, traditional-aged, second-semester, residential freshman, were selected. The study sought to examine what impact actual or perceived congruence between the environments had on the students' adjustment, success, and persistence. A random sample (n = 209) of freshmen was surveyed utilizing the Student Assessment and Valuation Instrument on Retention, version II. The survey gathered demographic information on actual and perceived differences between the home/high school and collegiate environments, and measured adjustment in five areas: social, religious, residency, faculty, and classes. Satisfaction, success, and future college actions were also measured. The results indicate that prior exposure to and affiliation with Catholicism led to positive student outcomes. Being Catholic, having a mother who is Catholic, and attending a Catholic high school were all significantly related to higher levels of adjustment and persistence. By contrast, prior exposure to urban environments was not significantly related to college adjustment. Actual descriptions of differences were found to be more important indicators of adjustment than student perceptions of difference. The most important predictors of student persistence were adjustment to residence hall living and to classes. Gender was an important predictor of persistence, with women being more likely to graduate than men. Success, as measured by first semester grade point average, was significantly related only to high school success. Additionally, students without declared or intended majors were less satisfied with their experiences. The results provide valuable information for institutions, especially Catholic institutions, examining their recruitment and retention efforts. Environmental congruence can help determine which students may need additional resources and assistance in their transition. The importance of positive residential living experiences reinforces the value of placing time, effort, and resources into residence hall efforts. The importance of adjustment to classes and impact of having a major presents the need for directed efforts towards those students who are undecided about their area of study, assisting them in making meaning of their experiences.

Subject Area

Higher education|Academic guidance counseling

Recommended Citation

Boone, Charles Anthony, "Person -environment fit and college freshmen retention: Effects of congruence between the precollegiate and collegiate settings" (2003). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3101153.