Educational Administration, Department of


Date of this Version

Fall 11-21-2015


Baldwin, James L. (2015). A Correlational Case Study on Distance from Home and Attrition of First-Time, Full-Time Students. PhD Diss. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Educational Studies (Educational Leadership and Higher Education), Under the Supervision of Professor Brent Cejda. Lincoln, Nebraska: November, 2015

Copyright (c) 2015 James L. Baldwin


As institutions face increasing demands to maintain or increase enrollments, colleges and universities have begun to recruit students from greater distances. The purpose of this ex-post facto case study was to determine the existence of a relationship between the institutional distance from home and the attrition of traditional-aged, first-time, full-time students prior to the second year at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, one of the four-year campuses of the University. Following the correlational analysis, further analysis was conducted to determine if a non-linear relationship existed between the institutional distance from home and attrition of first-year students prior to their second year when controlling for sex, race or ethnicity, expected family contribution (EFC), parental education levels (specifically, first-generation college student status), residency status, housing status, SAT or ACT score, or market segmentation as defined by the institution. The literature review showed that prior exploration of this relationship has been sporadic and the methodology used was incomplete.

The case study examined attrition from first to the second year for 2,837 domestic, traditional-aged, first-time, full-time students (freshmen) matriculated and enrolled during the fall semesters of 2005 through and including 2013 at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.

Three statistical approaches were used: point-biserial correlation, partial correlation, and binary logistic regression analysis. Results indicated that there is no significant relationship between the institutional distance from home and attrition.

This case study adds to the literature: A new methodology for measuring distance in miles and travel time was utilized. Furthermore, the results will help to inform the future use of the variable of institutional distance from home in future studies of attrition, retention, and the development of predictive models. The study has practical implications for admissions officers, orientation planners, first-year experience planners, student support services, and learning community practitioners. It is recommended that this study be replicated at other institutions to contribute to the enrollment management, retention, and attrition literature.

Advisor: Brent Cejda