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Students invest resources and time to find the college or university that meets their needs and expectations. Likewise, institutions carefully plan how best to spend their funds and time to recruit an incoming class that meets or exceeds the college or university's admissions requirements and that will graduate. Despite students' extensive planning for college and institutions' detailed admissions recruiting and selection process, many students do not complete a degree at their first institution of attendance (Tinto, 1993). While some students leave college, never completing, others obtain a degree at another institution. The hypothesis of the present study is that graduation rates could increase and energy, money, and time could be saved if students and institutions were matched for success. Using logistic regression and restricted access data from the Beginning Postsecondary Study: 1996/2001 (BPS:96/01) and the Integrated Postsecondary Education System (IPEDS), three models and eight groups of students are compared to determine which model and variables best predict the probability for graduation. Traditional multivariate models examine whether student and institutional characteristics are important, but assume that the role of student and institutional characteristics are independent of one another. This study is different in that the relationship between student and institutional characteristics is examined, and then compared to traditional models. The results of this study indicate three main findings. First, when students were divided into groups the variables that influenced graduation rates varied for each group, suggesting that different groups of students' probability for graduation are different not only based upon student characteristics and institutional characteristics, but also based upon the student's relative position to the institution's average SAT score and cost of attendance. Second, a student's relative position to the institution's average SAT score and cost of attendance significantly impacted the probability for graduation; however the impact varied across models and groups of students. Third, findings from this study suggest that there is value in analyzing student and institutional characteristics simultaneously, as well as dividing students into groups based upon a student's relative position to the institution's average SAT score and cost of attendance, as it yields results worthy of discussion.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Douglas Harris, Professor Co-Directing Dissertation; Joseph Beckham, Professor Co-Directing Dissertation; Frances Berry, Outside Committee Member; Victoria-María MacDonald, Committee Member; Shouping Hu, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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