Trying Again: Completion Outcomes of Non-First-Time Undergraduate Students

Sorenson, Nichole

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Trying Again: Completion Outcomes of Non-First-Time Undergraduate Students


Sorenson, Nichole

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Non-first-time students make up a large portion of higher education nationally, particularly in the two-year institution sector, and yet their completion outcomes are largely unstudied. Unfortunately, higher education as it is currently designed does not work well for many non-traditional students. The purpose of this study is to investigate the college completion outcomes of non-first-time undergraduate students. This study relies on Swail’s Geometric Model of Student Persistence and Achievement as the theoretical framework for selecting variables of interest (Swail, 2003). To better understand the outcomes of non-first-time students, this study examines factors associated with student persistence and completion to determine whether those factors are also associated with completion for non-first-time students. Logistic regression is used to understand the impact of each variable of interest on the award or degree completion outcomes of non-first-time students, and the resulting likelihood of completion is compared. By comparing logistic regression models through backward elimination, the analysis determined that first-term grade point average, developmental education, enrollment intensity, age, and Pell-eligibility are most predictive of completion out of the variables included in the Adapted Geometric Model of Student Persistence and Achievement. As technology and industries change, the United States needs the ability to retrain and upskill adults whose previous job has been eliminated or whose industry is declining. To be responsive to the needs of our communities, colleges and universities must be able to support non-first-time students through their education. These results offer insights for improving the college completion outcomes of non-first-time students.



University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. June 2021. Major: Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development. Advisor: David Weerts. 1 computer file (PDF); ix, 125 pages.

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Sorenson, Nichole. (2021). Trying Again: Completion Outcomes of Non-First-Time Undergraduate Students. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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