The Influence of Environmental and Psychological Factors on University Attrition

Rebecca Hutt, Pace University


A large percentage of college students fail to complete their degree. The majority of the students who leave do so in the first year of matriculation. Previous research has identified both environmental and individual phenomena as contributing to attrition rates. However, there is little known about the nature of this relationship and the interaction between these areas. This study sought to examine the relationship between the psychological well-being of the student and the environmental factors of the university, in college student persistence during the first year of matriculation. The influence of demographic characteristics on college student persistence was also examined. The final sample consisted of 173 freshman students enrolled in Pace University. During the Spring semester of their freshman year, participants completed the College Persistence Questionnaire (CPQ) to measure the influence of environmental factors on adaptation to the university. Ryff's measure of Psychological Well-Being (PWB) was completed to assess individual characteristics. Participants also completed a demographic questionnaire. Students were then tracked to determine who returned and who did not return to the university the following semester. Psychological well-being and environmental integration and adaptation to the university were strongly correlated with one another, although they did not significantly predict retention. The data suggests that although psychological well-being and environmental adaptation together are not predictive of retention, psychological well-being does impact adaptation to the university. Furthermore, adaptation to the university was also found to be predictive of psychological well-being. Psychological well-being variables, environmental variables, and demographic variables as a set were found to be predictive of retention. These findings suggest that there is a strong interplay between individual and environmental characteristics, which has the potential to impact college retention rates.

Subject Area

Educational psychology|Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

Hutt, Rebecca, "The Influence of Environmental and Psychological Factors on University Attrition" (2012). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI3506529.



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