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The majority of the literature expands or tests these theories in their specific setting or application, as in private, distance, and non-traditional learning environments (Guglielmetti 2011; Holmegaard et al. This literature review is through the lens of a public, four-year institution. While student attrition is a major institutional concern, there is still work to be done in determining what an institution can do to improve retention. Following World War II and the expansion of higher education, institutions had to deal with the influx of new students and the increased desire for a college education (Crosling et al. Prior to the 1970s the majority of student retention research and theories focused on characteristics of individual students (Aljohani 2016a; Reason 2003; Tinto 1975, 1993).
This article has been constructed by reviewing literature and seminal works on student attrition and retention in higher education. He is currently working on his Doctorate of Education in Higher Education Administration at the University of Wyoming.
Student persistence also plays a major impact in institutions’ financial planning, as student tuition and fees are major drivers of institutional income.
With these facts in mind, it becomes increasingly important to understand what literature and theories exist relative to increasing student success and retention within higher education.
The literature is rich with theoretical frameworks as well as qualitative and quantitative research to support understandings of student persistence.
This article provides an overview of student retention, some of the theoretical models that exist in the literature, and some of the applied retention research within student affairs.