Date of Award

1989

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Higher Education Administration PhD

First Advisor

Jerome D. Thayer

Second Advisor

Merlene A. Ogden

Third Advisor

M. Wesley Shultz

Abstract

Problem. Information is needed regarding the reasons students attend Seventh-day Adventist higher education institutions, and how these reasons and students' characteristics relate to their decision to remain in college or withdraw.

Method. A study was made of freshmen entering Andrews University and Union College in autumn 1983. Survey and personal information were collected at the beginning and near the end of the school year. Students who withdrew during or after their freshmen year were identified. Data collected were analyzed using several criterion variables, including retention status, time of withdrawal, gender, and school attended. The applicability of Tinto's model of retention was tested for church-related institutions.

Results. Freshmen at these two Seventh-day Adventist institutions appear to be similar to their peers at other public and private traditional and residential colleges in personal background, reasons for attending college, freshman year experience, and reasons for persisting or withdrawing. Salient findings include: (1) The greatest differences among students on each campus studied were between students from regional feeder secondary schools and nearby states, and students further away; social reasons were more important to those attending from a shorter distance from home. (2) A general commitment to Christian education was found to contribute to the persistence of many students during and at the end of their freshman year. (3) In addition to the usual academic and social reasons for withdrawing, financial and religious integration/commitment reasons were also related to the decision to remain or withdraw. (4) A relationship was found between student-institution fit and retention. Tinto's model of retention, with the addition of religion pre-enrollment characteristics and religious integration as well as intention to continue, describes the retention behavior of students in church-related institutions in a manner similar to other published tests of the model.

Conclusions. Because of their similarity to their peers in other colleges and universities, studies of students at Seventh-day Adventist institutions are appropriate using methods successful on other campuses.

A commitment to obtaining a college education in a Christian setting is related both to the decision to attend Andrews University or Union College and to continue beyond the freshman year.

Subject Area

College students, Andrews University--Freshmen, Union College (Lincoln, NE)--Freshmen

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