Over 50 percent of first-time students entering institutions of higher learning will not graduate from their selected college or, for that matter, from any other college or university (Tinto, 1987). Because of this large drop-out rate, colleges and universities have put increasing effort into the development and implementation of retention programs (Bedford & Durkee, 1989).
However, despite this effort it has only been recently that research has been conducted to comprehensively evaluate these newly developed programs. The need for continuing evaluation of retention programs has been stressed by Bedford and Durkee (1989) because, as the authors have noted, it is only in this way that educators can eventually arrive at a full and complete understanding of the variables that reduce student attrition and make for effective programs of retention.
Retention at private colleges is especially crucial because attrition often means a severe drop in operating expenses. Moreover, this drop means that monies which had previously been allocated for operating expenses must now be withdrawn and put into efforts to recruit new students. Therefore, the need for evaluative research on the retention programs of private colleges is perhaps even more imperative than the need for this kind of research by colleges in general.
This study's research problem was to evaluate the effectiveness of retention programs at the 27 private, four-year colleges located in the state of Michigan.
The evaluation that constitutes this study's research problem can be characterized as having three primary purposes: (1) the collection of retention data from each college; (2) the collection of data regarding the kind of retention program or programs implemented at each college; and (3) the collection of supplementary data regarding factors which the existing literature has established as relevant to reasons for drop-out and therefore the need for college retention...