Student attrition is the reduction in the student population in a school because of dropouts or transfers. Student attrition has become an important concern for many colleges and universities that has resulted in much research because students who drop out normally suffer from personal disappointments, minimization of career and life goals, and financial setbacks. The research on student attrition or retention has mainly been on the basis of statistical analyses of the variations between dropouts and persisters. One of the main reasons for the analyses is to understand the phenomenon of school drop outs, which was regarded as a major problem in today's society.
Student Attrition Rate:
In the last two decades, student attrition rates in both higher and distance learning education have come under increased scrutiny ("Student Attrition in Higher Education," n.d.). Some of the reasons attributed to the recent student attrition rate are political factors and the extensive adoption of new policies on management in public sectors across Western countries. According to the findings of research, student attrition rate of distance learners have been identified as being higher as compared to those of conventional higher education institutions. However, some open learning courses or distance education programs have higher student retention rates than contact courses in certain cases.
With the increased student attrition rates, the shape and management of student attrition has been considered as a quality issue for a long period of time. The acknowledgement of the looming leveling off and decline in the number of college-age going students has resulted in some sense of institutional urgency. The institutional urgency is for the purpose of understanding the kind of students who drop out, why they drop out, and means of influencing them to stay. While the research on understanding the causes of student attrition plays a significant role in explaining the societal problem, it has adopted a dimension of urgent administrative necessity to retain students.
Due to the higher rates of student attrition in the last few decades, a new movement for student consumer rights has emerged. The developed student consumer movement has challenged practices and assumptions that have been accepted in higher education for a long period of time. One of the assumptions about higher education that has been challenged by the movement is the fact that it's best for students to continue their education without interruption. As students question the stigmatization of dropping out of college, they argue that alternatives for the four consecutive years of college education should be provided to them. They also state that administrative processes for delayed post-high school entry, withdrawal, and re-entry should be clarified and made as efficient as possible (Ramist, n.d.). In light of the view of education as a long-life process, the students' position regarding alternatives is correct.
Therefore, even though colleges are concerned with the high student attrition rates and effective means for encouraging student retention, the subtle societal stigma regarding school drop outs will be ineffective in retaining students. Notably, concerns regarding student attrition by colleges and the concerns of students about their rights as consumers are actually congruous. In attempts to explain the reasons for the high student attrition rates and develop effective means for stimulating student retention, several analyses have focused on identifying the causes of attrition. While these analyses have discovered that some students drop out of school because of circumstances that are beyond their control, most of them drop out because of dissatisfaction. Consequently, the higher student attrition rates in the recent past can be attributed to student dissatisfaction, which will always be present in educational services.
Gendered Attrition Rates:
The difference between the male and female students' rate of school drop outs is referred to as gendered attrition rates. While education is a tool for the empowerment of people economically, socially, and individual well-being, there is an estimated number of 1.3 million students of American students who drop out of school every year. With the high number of student attrition rates, there are differences on gender issues that are associated with the attrition rates. According to the findings of a research, there are high attrition rates of women in subjects like biology and chemistry. The research that was conducted at a large university in Midwest indicated that there is a larger attrition rate for female students in both biology and chemistry fields than male students (Ferreira, 2003).
Generally, the attrition rates of male students with high school averages that are below 80% are higher as compared to their female counterparts with similar averages. However, there is a slight variation in these attrition rates for averages above 80%. Therefore, it's likely that the reason for this high male student attrition rates than female students is a reflection of the variations in high school entry grades. Consequently, it can be concluded that there is a higher attrition rate for male students as compared to their female counterparts across all fields. Female students are less likely to leave school for academic reasons than their male counterparts but more likely to drop out due to changes in family status.
Attrition Rates for International Students:
Based on an analysis of the different student populations across institutions, there is a considerable variation in attrition levels of domestic and international students. In the last decade, the attrition rates for domestic students have remained relatively similar due to the minor increase in the levels for domestic commencing postgraduate students. This relatively similar rate of attrition for domestic students in the last ten years is also attributed to the minor decline in the level for domestic commencing undergraduate students.
However, the attrition rates for international students have declined slightly over the same period that the rate for domestic students has remained relatively stable. The slight decline in this level of attrition for international students is because of the relatively huge drop in the attrition rates of postgraduate students. As compared to the attrition rates of domestic students, the level of attrition for international students is lower especially at the postgraduate level. Based on the conclusions of an analysis, international students are less likely to drop out from school than their domestic counterparts.
While the average attrition rate for domestic students is estimated at 19%, the average for their international counterparts is approximately 9%. The rates of individual higher education institutions portray the huge variations in the behavior of both domestic and international students. Generally, the low rate of attrition for international students is due to the heavy investments that these students have made to acquire their places in the academic institutions.
Factors Affecting Student Attrition:
There are various factors that affect or contribute to student attrition across various institutions including:
A student's background characteristics such as race or ethnicity, academic integration, and delayed post-secondary enrollment are some of the factors that contribute or affect student attrition ("Factors Affecting Student Attrition," 2003). There is a huge possibility that students who experience delayed post-secondary enrollment after high school will depart early as compared to their counterparts who didn't undergo delays. Moreover, students who consider themselves to be basic employees are likely to drop out of school without a credential than those who are exclusively students. Lower academic integration for students during their first years in college is also regarded as a contributing factor to student attrition.
As previously mentioned, one of the major reasons for the high rate of student attrition is student dissatisfaction. Some of the factors that contribute to student dissatisfaction include mistakes in college original choice and lack of enough perceived benefits from the academic or social life of the institution. While dissatisfaction is a common characteristic of all educational services, it's regarded as the main reason behind student attrition.
Reducing Student Attrition:
There are various strategies that can be used to reduce student attrition,…