Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Laurie Bedford


Retention of first-year students was a problem at a private 4-year university in the Southeastern United States. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to examine the reasons entering first-year students who were part of the Promise Program withdrew from the university during their first year. Tinto's model of student attrition provided the conceptual framework for the study. Research questions addressed students' rationale for selecting the school, their perspectives on the main causes of first-year attrition, their expectations of campus support services, and their recommendations for how to decrease student attrition. Data were collected from semistructured interviews with 7 students from the spring 2016 and fall 2016 semesters. The interviews were transcribed and analyzed using manual coding and coding software. Findings indicated that students' sense of belonging was the most influential factor in their decision to withdraw from college. Recommendations included a training program for administrators and staff on customer service techniques. This study can bring positive social change to the profession by seeking out systemic changes to promote entering freshmen's college completion. Conclusively, the implications of positive social change is most benefical to students when more students are able to earn a degree, and better their livelihood. The university would benefit by graduating more students and the success of their college graduates could be seen as their own success of addressing student's social and academic needs. Finally, the positive social change for externalities would benefit from the investment in human beings and human capital as a critical input for change and innovations to society.