Predicting College Retention Outcomes

Why do some students not complete their degree?

Institutions of higher education allocate the bulk of their effort and energy toward recruiting students who match the demographic, socioeconomic, or academic parameters they desire. However, data from the National Center for Education Statistics indicate that around 64% of students complete their bachelor's degree at the same institution where they started within six years, leaving an average of 36% of students either dropping out or transferring to another institution. Students leaving an institution for any reason leads to a loss of revenue and poorer enrollment statistics, which begs the question: how can schools increase retention?

Predicting College Retention Outcomes

Predicting College Retention Outcomes: Through belongingness, confidence, and barriers to degree

Through a survey of more than 1,200 current undergraduates from Carnegie’s CollegeXpress service and paneling network, this study seeks to understand the psychology of students who do not complete their degree at their initial institution by exploring a theoretical relationship between a sense of belonging at their institution, self-confidence, and external barriers to degree completion.

Key Insights:

  • While 77% of students say they intend to complete their degree, more than half of students at least considered dropping out
  • Minority student groups, particularly LGBTQ and disabled students, had lower rates of satisfaction
  • Most facets of the college experience are rated well, but financial aid is still a significant challenge
  • While social issues were selected frequently, the most commonly cited reasons to drop out were academic performance struggles, mental/ physical health struggles, and financial struggles

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