Non-Traditional Undergraduate Students at a Private Sector Institution: An Explanatory Case Study

Non-Traditional Undergraduate Students at a Private Sector Institution: An Explanatory Case Study

Author: 
Ashley C. Weaver
Program of study: 
Ph.D./HEA
Abstract: 
Attrition rates for non-traditional students are a concern for leaders in higher education, especially at private, for-profit institutions. Leadership in these higher education institutions need an understanding on what may be effective to increase the retention and attrition of non-traditional students. In the qualitative single-case study conducted, the researcher explored the effectiveness of the Student Central department at a for-profit university in the Atlanta, Georgia metropolitan area and its contribution to retention and attrition. The research questions used in this study were (1) What are the potential factors surrounding non-traditional student attrition? and (2) What are the perspectives of administrative staff regarding non-traditional student attrition? The research consisted of open-ended interviews with Student Support Advisors, Student Success Coaches, and Student Finance Consultants, document review, and physical artifacts (system review). The themes that emerged from the participants’ interview responses were (a) academic preparedness and time management, (b) family obligations, (c) work/job responsibilities, (d) lack of financial aid, (e) policies, and (f) motivation. The findings of the current research may provide valuable insight for professionals at for-profit higher education institutions.
Dedication: 
I dedicate this dissertation to my parents, who have always instilled the value of education and for the consistent support through everything that I do. To my mother, thank you for being more than a mother, but also a friend. You have always put my wants and needs before yours and I appreciate you through this journey and life’s journey. To my father, thank you for the pep talks throughout the dissertation process- when I felt like giving up, you always lifted my spirits and I love you for it. I would also like to dedicate this dissertation to my brother who has been such a rock in my life and great supporter. To my nephew, Jaylen- I pray that you view me as an example and always strive for excellence. To my second mother, Ms. B, thank you for being you. I’m so appreciative for your presence, the constant push that you so “gently” gave, and for always believing in me. To all of my family and friends, those that have passed and are still here, I thank you for the lessons that you have given me and the support that you have provided me. Thank you to my wonderful University of Phoenix cohorts that were in the trenches with me. I love you all and I thank you for believing in me even when I did not believe in myself!
Acknowledgements: 
My first acknowledgement goes to God- without him; I would not have made it. I constantly prayed to complete this degree and he saw me through. A special thank you to Dr. Debra Tucker for working with me. You welcomed me with open arms and always made me feel like I could take on this crazy dissertation rollercoaster. You jumped in when I truly needed you and I am so appreciative of you. Thank you to my committee members for the support that you have given me. Dr. Sushil Jindal and Dr. Alana Lyles, you are simply great! I would also like to extend a big thank you to my co-workers. You all encouraged me when I really needed it. Thank you for your understanding and the occasional push when you all felt that I was moving to slow in the process. Thank you to the participants of the study for lending me your time and really wanting to assist me with completing my dissertation.