About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 1562-1571
Publication year: 2017
ISBN: 978-84-617-8491-2
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2017.0050

Conference name: 11th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 6-8 March, 2017
Location: Valencia, Spain

FACTORS POSITIVELY INFLUENCING PERSISTENCE AND PROGRAM COMPLETION FOR NONTRADITIONAL STUDENTS ENROLLED AT A FOR-PROFIT POSTSECONDARY INSTITUTION

K. MacDonald

Drexel University (UNITED STATES)
For-profit institutions have grown exponentially in population and demand in higher education. With expedited, job-specific programs; flexible classes; no extracurricular activities; and the options of students earning certificates, diplomas or even associate’s degrees, these schools are attractive to nontraditional learners. Nontraditional students are typically over the age of 24, predominantly female working single mothers, enrolled in school part-time, have a GED rather than high school diploma and many are the first in their families to attend any kind of postsecondary education. This nontraditional population accounts for 70 percent of students enrolled in for-profit postsecondary institutions; however, only approximately 30 percent of those students end up graduating from those programs. Despite the fact that these expedited programs at for-profit institutions range from an average of 6 months to three years, it took those who actually graduated six years to finish. Approximately 63 percent of nontraditional learners drop out before graduating; some students only lasted mere months before leaving.

Retention is one of the most important aspects of maintaining a for-profit postsecondary institution as the schools are run solely on students’ tuition and loans. This study will be conducted at one for-profit campus in Pennsylvania offering Allied Health-driven programs. This is one of 40 other campuses across the country that the corporation owns. In recent years, dropping retention rates have led to several for-profit colleges closing, including 10 campuses within this corporation alone. Within the for-profit sector, the student demographic is far different than those at the traditional college or university level, and these “nontraditional” students have different learning needs than their traditional counterparts. Though there are studies examining the needs of traditional college, university and community college students, none have been done to explore the needs of nontraditional learners at the private for-profit postsecondary level, necessitating this research be conducted.

The purpose of this qualitative study is to examine what nontraditional students feel they need to complete a program at a for-profit institution by conducting 30 interviews with students who are near the end of their program or identified as “at risk." The study aims to categories these needs as personal ones, institutional ones and personnel ones. As of July 2016, there were 233 students enrolled at this Pennsylvania campus, with approximately 30 students ready to graduate by April 2017. The campus has a reported 43.2 percent graduation rate and a 65 percent retention rate according to the consumer information portion of the campus’s website. Currently only 6.2 percent of the campus population is male according to IPEDS. In an effort to understand what these students need and potentially implement retention practices aimed at these needs, the following research questions direct the study: What personal obstacles do adult-learners at for-profit schools feel compromise their ability to persist to graduation? To what extent does faculty involvement/ mentoring have an effect on program completion according to students? What school programs do adult learners feel are beneficial to their program completion at a for-profit school?
@InProceedings{MACDONALD2017FAC,
author = {MacDonald, K.},
title = {FACTORS POSITIVELY INFLUENCING PERSISTENCE AND PROGRAM COMPLETION FOR NONTRADITIONAL STUDENTS ENROLLED AT A FOR-PROFIT POSTSECONDARY INSTITUTION},
series = {11th International Technology, Education and Development Conference},
booktitle = {INTED2017 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-617-8491-2},
issn = {2340-1079},
doi = {10.21125/inted.2017.0050},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.21125/inted.2017.0050},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Valencia, Spain},
month = {6-8 March, 2017},
year = {2017},
pages = {1562-1571}}
TY - CONF
AU - K. MacDonald
TI - FACTORS POSITIVELY INFLUENCING PERSISTENCE AND PROGRAM COMPLETION FOR NONTRADITIONAL STUDENTS ENROLLED AT A FOR-PROFIT POSTSECONDARY INSTITUTION
SN - 978-84-617-8491-2/2340-1079
DO - 10.21125/inted.2017.0050
PY - 2017
Y1 - 6-8 March, 2017
CI - Valencia, Spain
JO - 11th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
JA - INTED2017 Proceedings
SP - 1562
EP - 1571
ER -
K. MacDonald (2017) FACTORS POSITIVELY INFLUENCING PERSISTENCE AND PROGRAM COMPLETION FOR NONTRADITIONAL STUDENTS ENROLLED AT A FOR-PROFIT POSTSECONDARY INSTITUTION, INTED2017 Proceedings, pp. 1562-1571.
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