Student Retention and Attrition Student Research Paper

Excerpt from Research Paper :

• Feeling lack of control because of too many rules and regulations of white institutions.

• Fitting in at school may fail to be a priority.

• Lack of positive interracial relationships before and during college.

• Lack of parental support.

(Arnold, 1999).

3. Main Factors Affecting Retention and Attrition

Many of the central factors affecting retention and attrition have already been discussed above. As was referred to, preparation is a central factor that was found to be significant across demographic boundaries and especially among various ethnic groups. This refers to social, emotional as well as academic preparedness. Academic preparedness is noted in the literature as being of cardinal importance in continuing to the second year of study: "…those students with higher ACT scores were more likely to return for the second year" ( McDaniel and Graham, 2001).

Motivation and high academic goals were also seen as a primary factor in retention and student persistence. Other factors were monetary constraints that prevented continuation, as well as the important issue of social acceptance and involvement. This last factor was found to play an important part in attrition. Student involvement and engagement, as well as a sense of belonging, were shown in the literature to be important considerations (What Keeps Students in One Place? Study Examines Factors in Student Retention). As has been discussed, gender and ethnicity also influences retention rates in different ways. The difference between resident and local student status was also an influencing factor (What Keeps Students in One Place? Study Examines Factors in Student Retention).

A partial example of these factors can be seen in an Ohio study which found that "Personal adjustment reasons, cost and financial aid, and negative campus experiences were identified from a list of 48 potential reasons, as the reasons that influenced their decision to leave Ohio University" (First-Year Student Attrition at Ohio University 2003-04 to 2004-05…). The same study also found that "Stayers reported having more engagement and more frequent academically-oriented contacts with faculty than leavers"( First-Year Student Attrition at Ohio University 2003-04 to 2004-05…).

4. Solutions

Central to the above discussion is the fact that there are many variables and factors that come into play when considering attrition and retention- and that each institution differs in some aspects. This makes developing consistent and universally applicable solutions to this problem extremely difficulty.

On the other hand, there are some solutions that have been shown to have general application. One of these is developmental and remedial courses, which have been shown to better prepare the student for continuation and to help with aspects such as self-confidence and self-esteem, which reduces attrition.

This view is evident in the literature. There is a general consensus that initiatives such as early outreach programs aimed at developing students' academic competencies before admission to college and university, can significantly reduce attrition levels. Other programs, such as orientation programs, can help to "… ease the transition to college that contain academic strategies, social support, and information about campus life" (College Student Retention).

It has also been found that first-semester courses that continue orientation and provide support and information about campus and freshmen interest groups are extremely helpful. An important factor that has also been found to useful in retention is the implementation of academic skills development, such as basic skills, time management, tutoring, and course-specific skills (College Student Retention).

In the final analysis, there is probably no single or simple program that any one institution can promote that will solve the problem of attrition. However, what is also clear from the literature is that there many programs and initiatives that can help to increase retention and reduce attrition and that further research is needed in this field.


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