Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Agricultural and Extension Education and Evaluation

Document Type

Dissertation

Abstract

While many Americans may be questioning the value of a college degree due to rising costs, on virtually every measure of economic well-being and career attainment—from personal earnings to job satisfaction to the share employed full time—young college graduates are outperforming their peers with less education. Yet college dropout rates indicate that up to 32.9% of undergraduates do not complete their degree program, which has a financial impact on both students and the universities and colleges where they enroll (Hanson, 2022).

Historically, students who leave college before completing a baccalaureate degree are no better qualified than those with a high school diploma are. According to Hanson (2022), college dropouts make an average of 32.6% less income than bachelor’s degree holders and are 19.6% more likely to be unemployed than any degree holder.

The purpose of this descriptive correlation study is to determine the influence of selected personal and academic demographic characteristics on the retention from the fourth to fifth semester among first time, enrolled, traditional age, undergraduate students at a research-intensive university located in the southern portion of the United States. The research and findings of this study could be critical in setting up interventions and programs to decrease dropout rates and increase persistence to graduation. The data analyzed for this study was archived information extracted and provided by the study institution’s Office of the University Registrar. Data collected and analyzed included the demographic and academic variables selected from the review of literature.

Findings of the study revealed two substantively significant factors influence retention from the fourth to fifth semester among first time, enrolled, traditional age, undergraduate students at a research-intensive university in the South: the two most important factors in retaining students from the fourth to fifth semester is “First Semester GPA” are “First Semester Earned Credits.” Focusing on first-semester GPA and first semester earned credits is especially useful and advantageous because it is the initial academic outcomes that are an early warning sign that a student may not persist. Both also occur early enough in a student’s academic journey to allow for intervention efforts.

Date

5-19-2023

Committee Chair

Burnett, Michael F.

DOI

10.31390/gradschool_dissertations.6164

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