Contextual Factors and College Retention of Single Mothers
Jackson de Carvalho, Alex D. Colvin

Retention is the percentage of first-time bachelor’s degree-seeking students from the previous fall who either re-enrolled or successfully completed their program by the current fall. Current student retention rates indicate public postsecondary institutions retain approximately two thirds of freshmen students to their second year of college and only one third of these students will graduate. Among all university undergraduate students, the share of single mothers nearly doubled over the past 20 years (from 7 percent to just over 13 percent). Although the percentage of single mothers experiencing some form of postsecondary education has increased over the decades, single parents often face more barriers than traditional students. College institutions have only recently begun acknowledging the value of nonacademic factors that may influence academic success, retention and subsequent graduation of students. The purpose of this research study was to test a hypothesized model about contextual factors associated with retention of single mother college students. Statistical indices indicated significant direct and/or indirect effects of contextual variables on retention. The identification of these predicting factors can inform the development of retention strategies leading to increased graduation rates of single mothers.

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