Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Academic Discipline

Community College Leadership


In the 21st century, the potential for opportunities to obtain an education has become a reality and as a result, many students are embarking on a journey of social mobility and are assimilating into the milieu of higher learning. Affordability, accessibility, and program types are factors that have historically made public community colleges the primary option for students as they aspired to obtain higher education. However, with the rapid growth of for-profit post-secondary institutions offering similar programs, flexible hours, and accelerated degree options, students who would have traditionally enrolled at a public community college are now choosing to attend a for-profit post-secondary institution. Despite the myriad of educational opportunities, the higher education system is in a state of crisis, yet being challenged by President Obama to once again lead the world in terms of college completers.

As the community college and for-profit post-secondary sectors contend with budget shortfalls, increased scrutiny, and the challenge to increase completion rates, the division of student affairs may need to explore additional options and strategies to maintain its core mission: helping students succeed.

There is substantial research available regarding the effectiveness and efficiency efforts of the student and academic affairs divisions. However, research that compares the community college student affairs division with the for-profit post-secondary institutions is relatively non-existent. This mixed-method study seeks to bridge the gap in literature and to provide an examination of the roles, functions, and organizational structure of Student Affairs within both sectors to identify the core dynamics that contribute most to student success.

Findings of the study suggest that while the purpose of student affairs is the same for both sectors, there are significant differences in organizational structure and how services are rendered. Further findings suggest that a relationship may exist between the number of functional services provided by the division and the overall institutional completion rates. Finally, the findings provide insight into how senior student affairs officers within both sectors measure and determine services to support student success. All of the findings, coupled with The Reid-Hart model for Student Affairs Success Dynamics, can assist institutions as they navigate the challenges of today and the future.