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What Matters in College Student Success? Determinants of College Retention and Graduation Rates

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Increasingly, student success in college is gauged by retention and graduation rates. Understanding the factors that influence student success can assist practitioners in terms of programming and institutional investments. This study evaluated factors such as residential living, attendance programs, demographic attributes, average class size, and student academic preparation by employing longitudinal, student-level data at one midsized university in the southeastern United States from 1998 to 2004. Individual student information was analyzed, including average class size and student performance in general education courses. Probit regression models indicated that retention and graduation rates were higher for students who were academically prepared, received grants or scholarships, and were in smaller classes. These rates were not influenced by sex, race, absenteeism, or living in residence halls. This work suggests that universities could improve graduation and retention rates by investing in scholarships, smaller class sizes, and financial aid infrastructure.
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Keywords: CLASS SIZE; ECONOMICS OF HIGHER EDUCATION; GRADUATION RATES; RETENTION RATES; STUDENT SUCCESS

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2018

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  • Education publishes original investigations and theoretical papers dealing with worthwhile innovations in learning, teaching, and education. Preference is given to innovations in the school — proposed or actual — and theoretical or evaluative. Papers concern all levels and every area of education and learning. Education is primarily concerned with teacher preparation in all of its many aspects.
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