The purpose of this quantitative research study was to determine if student background variables ([age, race, gender, and socioeconomic status, (SES)] are predictors of student persistence semester-to-semester (2009-2010). The sample population included 298 students, consisting of first-time, first-semester, full and part-time students working toward achieving a degree or credential at a rural community college in northeastern North Carolina. Community colleges enroll almost half of the nation's college learners, fewer than half of the learners who begin at community colleges earn a degree or credential within six years of initial enrollment. The semester-to-semester persistence rate from the sample in the study was 75%, much higher than national averages. Although student persistence has been researched extensively in the past decades, only recently has persistence research been conducted on the most diverse populations in two-year institutions where attrition is the highest. The lack of persistence leads to loss of college revenue, fewer graduates entering the workforce, and fewer students achieving their personal goals. Using associated research and archived records this study analyzed the effect of age, race, gender, and SES on persistence. Logistic regression, including descriptive statistics, was used, and determined varying relationships between independent variables and the dependent variable, persistence. No significant relationships were found between persistence and age, race, and SES. While some literature and empirical research with these variables previously found significant relationships, the current study did not and this may be due to; few studies conducted at rural community colleges, the use of rural sample size, and the reliance on financial aid by students. The strongest relationship was found between the independent variable and gender. The sample population consisted of 48% male and 51.7% female. The results showed that the level of the relationship between gender and persistence was p=.005, which was less than the alpha level of .05. Also, literature reviewed for the study showed that students' SES is significantly linked to persistence once the variables of gender and race are controlled. Future research could incorporate a qualitative analysis to provide useful information regarding these same independent variables in the context of the individual student.
|Department:||School of Education|
|School Location:||United States -- Arizona|
|Source:||DAI-A 76/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Community college education, Higher Education Administration, Higher education|
|Keywords:||Community college, Demographics, Persistence, Retention, Rural|
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