Educational Administration, Department of


Date of this Version



Gresk, R., & Niehaus, E. (2021). “You shall not pass”: Predicting attrition and completion of an Iraqi academic preparatory program. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Leadership Studies, 2(3), 140-158.

DOI: 10.52547/johepal.2.3.140


This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0


The purpose of this quantitative study is to understand the factors associated with student retention and matriculating from an Academic Preparatory Program to the undergraduate program at a university in Iraq. We used a logistic regression model to predict student’s probability of retention and maturation based on demographic and academic variables. We aim to ensure that institutions are identifying and implementing strategies to improve student success by first examining if the institutional enrollment approach is the best one for our students and institution. Our logistic regression analysis model found that ethnicity, initial English language placement, the Iraqi Baccalaureate Score, and attending a private high school were all significant predictors in matriculation. We also found strong support for the importance of academic momentum in facilitating students’ progress. The findings here offer private institutions in postconflict societies such as Iraq some important insight: through identifying the different variables that predict progression into the undergraduate program, we can better understand and reduce student attrition. On a larger scale, this study contributes to the field of developmental education research by finding that U.S. theories are relevant when the curricula and programming of the education institution are modeled on those of the United States, even within post-conflict societies such as those of Iraq. Future research will need to explore if the same would be found in other institutions throughout Iraq and post-conflict settings, but the lack of available research conducted within these countries should not prevent sound research from being conducted.