A relationship study on retention among traditional and non-traditional students in select North Carolina community colleges

J. Michael Harpe, Fayetteville State University


Student retention has become one of the most significant issues facing higher education. Countless hours and considerable amounts of money have been spent in an attempt to determine why some students leave college and while others persist. Previous retention studies have focused primarily on traditional students from four-year, residential colleges. Research on the retention of students at two-year community college campuses is lacking. The purpose of this study was to use pre-existing data from the North Carolina Community College Systems' Data Warehouse to determine the rate of persistence to graduation for a cohort of degree-seeking students at two-year community colleges in North Carolina. The study also examined the relationship between selected demographic and academic factors and student persistence, and the ability of these factors to predict student persistence. The population consisted of a student cohort of degree-seeking students who initially enrolled during the fall semester of 2006. The cohort was tracked for three years, from fall 2006 through spring 2008. A logistical regression was utilized to answer the research questions. The majority of demographic factors that were significantly related to student persistence were age at the time of matriculation, and ethnicity. Academic factors found to have a significant relationship with student persistence were first-semester college grade point average, enrollment status, and course-taking behavior. This analysis indicates that of the total 1,000 cases, students attaining a higher grade point average their first semester of college, who are enrolled in at least 12 credits, who are enrolled in a diploma or certificate program, who complete more of the courses that they enroll in, and who are a non-minority are more likely to persist. Gender and ethnicity were not significantly related to retention after controlling for covariates. Minority students, part-time students, lower-achieving students, students enrolled in Associate degree programs, and those who drop a portion of their classes in which they enroll are more likely to withdraw from the institution prior to program completion.

Subject Area

Community college education|Educational leadership|Adult education|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Harpe, J. Michael, "A relationship study on retention among traditional and non-traditional students in select North Carolina community colleges" (2010). ETD Collection for Fayetteville State University. AAI3485209.