Leaving College: Rethinking the Causes and Cures of Student Attrition
University of Chicago Press
, 1993 - Education
- 296 pages
As enrollments continue to decline, student retention is increasingly vital to the survival of most colleges and universities. In this new edition of his widely acclaimed Leaving College, Vincent Tinto synthesizes far-ranging research on student attrition and on actions institutions can and should take to reduce it. The key to effective retention, he demonstrates, lies in a strong commitment to quality education and the building of a strong sense of inclusive educational and social community on campus. This completely revised and expanded edition incorporates the explosion of recent research and policy reports on why students leave higher education. Using this new information, Tinto extends his theory of student departure to the experiences of minority, adult, and graduate students, and to the situation facing commuting institutions and two-year colleges. He has revised his theory as well, giving new emphasis to the central importance of the classroom experience and to the role of multiple college communities. Leaving College combines Tinto's review of recent research with the theoretical work of Emile Durkheim and Arnold van Gennep to develop a theory of departure that explains the complex process of events leading individuals to withdraw from college, a theory that reflects the actions and attitudes of the college community as much as those of the student leaving. Tinto offers principles of attrition that in turn form the basis of his discussion of institutional policy. Ultimately, he argues, the secret of effective retention lies not in the types of programs institutions construct for their students, but in the underlying commitment to students that inspires these programs. Hisargument that institutions must place the goal of retention second to that of student education provides a welcome corrective to institutional policies that look only at the ledger sheet. Up-to-the-minute research data will make this important book even more valuable, not only to those who study education but also to those who make important decisions about students and education policy generally.