Background and non-cognitive factors influencing academic persistence decisions in college freshmen
As the retention rate of college freshmen increases, Tinto's (1993) model of academic persistence conceptualizes several dimensions of students' voluntary dropout. This study examined both personal and parental factors that may impact the academic persistence decisions of freshmen college students: 1) parental educational attainment; 2) parental valuing of education; 3) high school grade point average (GPA); 4) residential status (on- versus off-campus); 5) educational self-efficacy; 6) self-esteem; 7) personal valuing of education; 8) perceived academic preparation; and 9) academic expectations. The study sample consisted of 378 freshmen college students at a large southwestern university who were recruited from 23 sections of a 100-level class intended to promote academic success. The participants in this cross-sectional study were restricted to freshman level students and 18 and 19 years old in accordance with Erikson's (1968) Identity stage of psychosocial development. A hierarchical regression analysis revealed that academic persistence decisions were predicted by residential status and self-beliefs, which consisted of: educational self-efficacy, self-esteem, personal valuing of education, perceived academic preparation, and academic expectations. Parental valuing of education was a significant predictor of academic persistence decisions until self-beliefs were added to construct the full model. Although self-beliefs were collectively the most powerful predictors of persistence decisions, accounting for 22.8% of the variance, examination of the beta weights revealed that self-esteem, educational self-efficacy, and personal valuing of education were the most powerful predictors, while academic expectations approached significance. Residential status was also a significant predictor and accounted for a small but significant variance (1.6%) in academic persistence decisions. A significant multivariate difference was found between students living on campus and those living off campus. Follow-up ANOVAs revealed differences in mother's education and in parental valuing of education. These findings suggest that researchers, counselors, and college policy-makers consider on-campus living variables as well as students' self-beliefs when considering academic persistence decisions in college freshmen.