ORCID Identifier(s)


Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Leaf Yi Zhang


Community colleges play a crucial role in the educational outcomes of the communities they serve. Two-year colleges often have fewer staff than their four-year counterparts, many of whom are fulfilling more than one functional area. As such, it is important that these professionals are prepared to perform their roles well and understand the needs of the students they serve. According to research, student affairs is made up of 80-85% of field trained practitioners, or those who enter the field without a graduate degree in higher education. More than 50% leave the field within the first five years and unsuccessful socialization contributes to attrition among this population. Despite previous studies on graduate students and new professionals, there was a gap in the research concerning field-trained practitioners and community colleges. To address this gap, this phenomenological study explored the lived socialization experiences of seven new field-trained community college student affairs practitioners. Using Van Maanen & Schein’s (1979) organizational socialization theory as the theoretical framework, the study revealed the following findings about the institutional socialization process: (1) a lack of collective onboarding and role clarity, (2) socialization agents were key to effective role acquisition, and (3) the socialization process inspired passion but discouraged career confidence. Intentional onboarding, synergistic supervision, peer support, and integration into the larger profession are keys to the successful socialization of field-trained practitioners. These socialization tools along with ongoing training and development help foster the sense of belonging and growth potential needed to increase new employee retention.


Organizational socialization, Student affairs, High education, Community colleges


Education | Educational Leadership


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington