Factors Influencing Persistence Among Nontraditional University Students


Sociology and Criminal Justice

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One third of undergraduate students enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities are considered nontraditional as defined by the single criterion of being aged 25 years and older. Nontraditional students have significantly lower graduation rates than traditional students. Using a role theory perspective this mixed-methods study examines the factors influencing persistence among a sample of 494 nontraditional men and women undergraduates attending a large public university in the southeastern United States. In this study, persistence rates did not differ between men and women although the factors influencing persistence did. Grade point average and confidence in graduating positively influenced persistence for both men and women. Women enrolled part-time were more likely to persist than those enrolled full-time. Although interrole conflict leads many women to consider withdrawing from school, most do not. Instead they exhibit awill to persist that enables them to overcome obstacles and ultimately graduate.

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