Date of Degree

9-2021

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Sociology

Advisor

Jeremy Porter

Committee Members

Pyong Gap Min

Sophia Catsambis

Susan Dumais

Subject Categories

Higher Education

Keywords

non-residential commuter college, Time to degree / graduation, Academic integration, social integration, Structural equation model

Abstract

Despite the abundant amount of studies about bachelor’s degree completion in higher education, little research paid attention to the characteristics of students attending non-residential institutions, given that this type of college accounts for approximately half of all the higher education institutions in the United States. Using student records and survey data, this study compares the student characteristics between residential and non-residential colleges at the institutional level. In addition, using a primarily non-residential college’s survey and student record data, this research explores diverse factors that affect students’ academic and social integration and their graduation at the individual level. Findings include that non-residential colleges tend to have a high proportion of first-generation and transfer students working off campus, and students attending this type of school are more likely to receive financial aid and less likely to participate in student organizations, compared to their counterparts attending residential colleges. At the individual level, academic integration in college, high school GPA, and financial aid are strong predictors for time to graduation of students in a non-residential college. Moreover, having a child, responsibility for siblings, housing issues, and a lack of direction in academic journey are found to be obstacles to degree completion through narratives. Directions for future studies are suggested to bring more attention to non-residential institutions.

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