Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Agricultural and Extension Education and Evaluation

Document Type



A college education has never been more important than it is today. With nearly two-thirds of jobs in the future requiring some form of advanced education, and approximately one-third of those requiring a bachelor’s degree, it is imperative that research be undertaken to address the factors that contribute to the success of students in college, more so regarding the persistence and retention of those students. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine the influence of selected personal and academic demographic characteristics on the persistence to graduation, specifically, within six years. A causal-comparative research design was used as the format for the study, and discriminant analysis was the technique utilized to analyze the research data. A relatively large extant data set provided by the university was used and all participants were anonymous due to all individual identifiers being removed. Results of the study revealed two substantively significant factors for persistence to graduation within six years of initial enrollment: first semester GPA and credit hours earned by the students in their first semester of enrollment. This study concluded that students who performed better academically and attained higher GPAs in their first semester of college enrollment were more likely to persist to graduation. In addition, it was concluded that students earning more credit hours in that initial semester are more likely to graduate than those students who carry lighter course loads. It is highly recommended by this researcher that there be a monitoring process for students to be assessed multiple times throughout the first semester of college as well as their first full academic year by the university to facilitate persistence to graduation for the student. It is further recommended that the university establish a base of required courses that all incoming students be required to take a minimal number of hours with comparable general education courses in order to monitor their progress. Being proactive during a student’s initial enrollment can provide an avenue for a successful journey to graduation.



Committee Chair

Blackburn, Joey