Honors Program Theses


Open Access Honors Program Thesis

First Advisor

A. Frank Thompson


College dropouts--Iowa--Cedar Falls; College students--Recruiting--Iowa--Cedar Falls;


A university needs to maintain enrollment to keep its budget relatively constant each year. Universities can maintain enrollment by either recruiting new students or retaining current students. Retaining current students requires fewer resources, making retention the more cost effective strategy. To increase retention a university must know the factors that lead to withdrawal. However, current withdrawal studies focus on aggregate enrollment. At the University of Northern Iowa (UNI), students who have decided to withdraw from classes during the semester complete a form that asks for their reason of withdrawal. The Enrollment Management Department at UNI could use the student responses to identify the causes of concern and create strategies to decrease the number of withdrawals and subsequently increase enrollment. One method of identifying the popular causes of withdrawal is to conduct a multiple decrement analysis. This type of analysis calculates the probability of decrement, or withdrawal from a group, for each reason listed on the exit form. This paper attempted to conduct a multiple decrement analysis to provide probabilities that a student leaves the University due to a particular cause, given her credit classification. Current data does not allow such a multiple decrement analysis, but one would give the Enrollment Management Department the ability to identify areas of concern as well as predictions of dropouts and enrollment. Due to the limited availability of data, this paper was only able to analyze total withdrawals. This does not allow the University to identify significant causes of withdrawal, but it does allow the University to predict total withdrawals and enrollment. The results of this analysis may also assist the Enrollment Management Department with questions such as how many students should be admitted for each student group to reach a desired steady state of enrollment and how many students should be admitted to reach a desired number of undergraduates who complete their degrees in four years. This analysis gives the Enrollment Management Department an even better understanding of the issues related to admissions, and provides suggestions to identify the causes of why students leave the University to help improve the enrollment process.

Year of Submission



Department of Finance

University Honors Designation

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the designation University Honors

Date Original


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