Date of Award

Spring 2018

Document Type

Capstone Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Public Administration (DPA)


Public Policy and Administration

Committee Chairperson

Allison H. Turner, Ph.D., MPA

Committee Member

Mark W. Davis, Ph.D, MPA


Students accepted into universities with lower academic skills and abilities can often have a difficult time making the transition into higher education and are typically labeled as being at-risk students. The purpose of this study was to assess how two at-risk populations at a comprehensive, public institution in the Northeast defined their academic success after one semester. This study focused on the factors that influenced the at-risk students’ perception of academic success and the support structures offered to assist the student populations. A quasi-experimental research design was used to determine if a cause-effect relationship existed between the at-risk populations, the grade range that represented doing well, and activities students ranked as being important to their overall academic success. At-risk students were asked to complete an online survey during the spring 2017 semester regarding their experiences as an at-risk student, and the quantitative results indicated that students do not need to receive A’s in their courses to be academically successful. Each of the at-risk programs encompassed different requirements, and results revealed there was not a significant difference in how the two at-risk populations perceived the assistance, support, and motivation they received from their respective programs.