Date of Award

Fall 12-2008

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership and Research

Committee Chair

Willie Pierce

Committee Member 2

Kyna Shelley

Committee Member 3

Debra Gentry

Committee Member 4

Terrell Tisdale


Student retention remains a major concern of higher education institutions. With decreasing state funding, higher education institutions have implemented creative strategies and methods to recruit students. Once students are recruited it is critical that they be retained. Research has confirmed that student withdrawals can be attributed to the lack of successful transition and adjustment to the college environment. Numerous studies have focused on how demographic factors (socioeconomic status, race, employment, and parental education level) affect retention with the major focus on academic adjustment. Current research has shown that nonacademic adjustment (social adjustment, personal/emotional adjustment, and institutional attachment) plays a significant role in students' persistence in college but is limited to how gender and racial groups, academic status, type of living environment, amount of participation, and institution type affect nonacademic adjustment. Most studies have not investigated the relationship of remedial and nonremedial groups and institution type as they relate to nonacademic adjustment. This study helps close the gap in literature by identifying factors that affect nonacademic adjustment in order to provide a better understanding of student retention.

The study sample was comprised of 198 college freshmen from two residential and two commuter universities in Mississippi and Louisiana. Statistical descriptions were derived from a two-way multiple analysis of variance (MANOVA) and a Spearman Correlation. Nonacademic adjustment was measured using the Student Adaptation to College Questionnaire (SACQ) while students' demographic background was investigated using a demographic questionnaire. The results of the study indicated that there were statistically significant differences in nonacademic adjustment based on students' academic status and institution types. A slightly significant relationship was found between nonacademic adjustment and student participation levels in extracurricular activities. Based on the results, implications for educational change are discussed.