A study of factors related to freshman year to sophomore year retention at Southern Oregon University
This study analyzed selected factors associated with first-to-second-year student retention at Southern Oregon University (SOU) by studying selected and relevant data from: demographic characteristics, secondary school experiences, and finances and socioeconomics. The nature of this research was predictive with the intention of developing a better understanding of students who might be at retention risk and the factors presumably contributing to that risk.
The Annual Freshman Survey (AFS) was administered to all first-year SOU students during the fall 2005 term. A raw score dataset was compared to the fall 2006 dataset for returning students. Chi-square tests for independence were utilized to test whether relationships existed between persistence and the independent variables.
Statistically significant relationships were observed between the following variables and student persistence: high school grade average, SAT/ACT score, and parental educational level. No statistically significant relationships were observed between the following variables and student persistence: gender, native language, college distance from home, living arrangements, religious preference, ethnicity, high school type, parental income, and concern over finances.
This study corroborates and challenges many commonly-assumed and literature-supported themes in the study of student persistence. On one hand, the results allowed for supporting the notion that high school grade performance, SAT/ACT scores, and parental educational level directly influenced student persistence, but gender and high school type did not influence persistence. On the other hand, findings from this study conflicted with the notion that native language, college distance from home, living arrangements, religious preference, ethnicity, and parental income influenced persistence. By endorsing and also challenging existing knowledge regarding student retention, this study has implications for practical application.