Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Karel Kurst-Swanger


How doctoral students view their institution's ability to resolve problems may be directly related to their overall satisfaction of the institution. Challenges such as barriers to communication could have a negative effect on the students' ability to be retained by the institution. Policies to address issues relating to retention; high default rates on student loans and student services are increasing and more constraining. While the literature indicates the formation of federal policies to monitor recruitment practices of for-profit online institutions, it is not known to what extent these policies have influenced the quality of postrecruitment services. Using the theoretical framework of Vincent Tinto's model of student retention, this qualitative phenomenological study analyzes the quality of these postrecruitment policies related to enrollment, financial, and problem resolution from the perspective of students. Data were collected from 20 current and former doctoral students of online programs at for-profit institutions through inteviews. These interview data were transcribed, and then subjected to open coding and thematic analysis. Findings indicate that participants perceive that their institutions were prepared to resolve problems; however, communication issues were prevalent largely because of the asynchronous nature of email communication or differences in time zones. Based on these findings, the recommendation is for institutions to consider reevaluating methods of communication with students. Social change can be obtained by utilizing the students' experiences to facilitate improvements in the for-profit sector to minimize the opportunity for snowball effects such as retention challenges.