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Students and their families expend much time, effort and money researching which colleges or universities will best suit the students' needs. Simultaneously, institutions desire to find the cohort of students who will succeed at their schools. Recently, faced with more stringent economic constraints, schools are not only seeking students likely to succeed, but are more aware of the financial burden placed on schools if attrition is high. Since the cost of recruiting a class has risen over the years, the cost of losing students has increased. As a result, institutions are more interested in engaging in student retention studies to find ways to reduce attrition. Using institutional data, this paper examines whether a student is likely to remain or leave school, either voluntarily or involuntarily, during the first versus second year. The data from students attending a small, selective, four-year liberal arts college provide results that are institution-specific, although the model and many results are applicable to other colleges and universities.


This article originally published in the Virginia Economic Journal, Vol. 5, 2000, pp. 25-31.