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The Complexity Of Retention Essay

4791 words - 20 pages

comp |
The Complexity of Retention |
By Savior WrightSubmitted to: Professor Sachedina |
12/16/2007 |


One of the many challenges facing higher education today is the declining retention rate

found throughout all forms of institutions. It is estimated that approximately fifty percent of

students leave higher education without being in receipt of an earned degree (Anderson, 1997).

Education has an effect on both the individual and society as attaining educational credentials

provides the individual with greater job security. As funding for higher education continues to

decline, institutions of higher education must maintain students in ...view middle of the document...

As institutions are

forced to operate with shrinking budgets and federal and state support declines, institutions

are being pressured to improve retention rates. The contribution education brings to society

makes the field and study of retention all the more valuable. With all the services provided to

students and theories explored as to why students leave, retention continues to decline.

Administrators must not remain puzzled by retention but rather move into action by

collaborating on new idea, theories, methods that will contribute to retention.

From the inception of Harvard in the 1600’s to approximately the mid 1800’s, higher education catered to select populations (Seidman, 2005). A student completing a degree during this era in higher education was not necessary for him/her (most institutions were male) to attain a career. Higher education did not become the educational system students know of today until the Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862 when institutions were given land and could expand their institutions which allowed a greater degree of students to attain education (Seidman, 2005). With the growth of cities and urbanization during the late 19th century, traditional schools such as Yale, Princeton, William and Mary began to change their curriculum from educating its students in the pastoral and missionary fields into more industrial related degrees (Seidman, 2005). As a result, attainment of a college degree became more valuable to both the student and society. It would be in this era of higher education where retention and graduation began to be of interest among institutions (Seidman, 2005). With the interest of retention in higher education also came the interest of students in the college life. Student life can also be attributed to the rise of students in institutions as organized social events and literary societies began to be found on campuses (Seidman, 2005).
From the 1930’s to the 1960’s, studies of undergraduate retention began to appear in data format. Studies completed and lead by John McNeely (1937) and would also be published

by the Department of Interior, would collect data from 60 institutions that examined demographics, social engagement, and reasons of departure among students. The study would be considered a precursor to the several studies that would occur in the 1960’s when undergraduate retention began to form into a researched subfield in higher education (Seidman, 2005). In 1895 the largest institution would have 2000 enrolled students and in 1910, the number would double (Feldman & Newcomb, 1999). The number of enrolled students would greatly increase after World War II after the passing of the GI Bill which saw two million veterans enter into higher education (Feldman & Newcomb, 1999). The strain of increased enrollment on institutions brought forth by the Civil Right Movement, War on Poverty and the unrest taking place on college campuses as a result of...

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