Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Keys to college students' success often overlooked
An early visit to college, clubs and other activities help students graduate earlier than others, study finds. A sense of belonging also helps, researchers say.
By Carla Rivera, Los Angeles Times

Colleges should examine a wider set of social, economic and personal characteristics to determine how they can help students remain in school and graduate, a new report has found.

Using information from a national survey of college freshmen in public and private institutions as well as graduation data, the report found, for example, that students who visit a college before enrolling, participate in clubs and other activities and those who have used the Internet for research and homework are more likely to complete a degree earlier than others. The costs of attending a college and the institution's size also contribute to students' success, the report found.

Overall graduation rates are up from a decade ago — nearly four in 10 students (39%) graduate in four years today compared to 36% of students who started college in 1994, the report showed. But 56.4% of students now take five years to graduate.

Disparities in graduation rates by ethnicity and gender persist and the gaps are increasing, according to the report. First-generation students are especially at a disadvantage: Only 27.4% of these students earn a degree after four years compared to 42% of students whose parents attended college.


  1. Vincent Tinto called.

    He'd like to welcome the authors to 1993.

  2. @Sawyer. The problem where I teach is that it's not 1993 anymore. The faculty no longer want to advise clubs, because that service doesn't "count" toward tenure and advising takes time away from what does, research and publishing. The staff has been cut then cut and then cut. The few brave souls who are willing to do this work have more and more to do--with less and less help and no true recognition.

    As a first-generation high school graduate and English speaker, I came to rely on the clubs for support, friendship, help, etc. It bleeds my heart that on my campus fewer and fewer students have what I did.

  3. @TubaPlayingProf, you nailed it. Right to the wall.

  4. @TubaPlayingProf- It wasn't 1993 in 1993.

    Tinto listed "involvement" as one of the five conditions of retention as early as 1987. The second edition of Leaving College: Rethinking the Causes and Cures of Student Attrition was published in 1993.

    What I was getting at is, "There's nothing new under the sun." We've "known" about retention factors for a very long time. It's a sad indictment that administrators continually choose to ignore them or foist "retention efforts" on "Student Services" because it has "student" and "service" in the name when, in fact, the research shows that branch plays a smaller role than is attributed to it by, essentially, "everyone" (if I may generalize.)

    Link to a paper presented by Tinto in 2003:


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