Undergraduate student retention has become the focus of many college institutions over the past decades. Building upon past research in this niche of higher academics, researchers used Glaser and Strauss’s (1967) ground theory to explore the applicability of Tinto’s model of student retention (1982) at a small, private liberal arts institution in the Pacific Northwest. Particular emphasis was placed on the assessment of social connectedness, determined by student relationships with peers and faculty at the institution. Researchers also gathered data on participant responses related to commitment to the institution, academic integration, and personal influences on retention (i.e., financial, family, individual stressors). The Director of Institutional Research and Assessment recruited the participants for the study; participants were full time male students who attended the institution for two academic years. Among 29 participants who indicated interest in participating in the study, 18 students completed individual interviews with the principal researcher that took approximately 45 to 60 minutes per interview. The majority of the participants reported that they had thought about leaving the institution over their two-year tenure, but returned due to relationships they created at the institution. The impact of social connectedness, academic integration, commitment to the institution, and personal influences are discussed further. Additional findings from individual interviews influencing retention as well as recommendations for institutional changes and program implementation are presented.
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