Date of Award





Doctor of Education


Counseling, Foundations & Leadership


The researcher designed the mixed method study to contribute to the field of study on persistence and provide information to CSU leadership, faculty and staff that may benefit efforts to reach and retain students. A better understanding of the factors influencing persistence may become vital for funding. Some form of performance-based funding is in place in 32 states. Georgia policymakers are considering factors such as student progression and degree completion.

For the study, the researcher asked:

1. What are the reasons graduating CSU students give for persisting at CSU? 2. What are the reasons incoming CSU students give for choosing to attend CSU? 3. Is there a relationship between the reasons students give for choosing CSU and the reasons students give for persisting at CSU?

The researcher’s sample was diverse in regard to race, age, gender, sexual orientation, pre-college academic and social experiences, financial need as well as health challenges and disability. The findings were congruent with studies examining student-instituion fit inclusive of the changing demographics among college students. Additionally, the relationship between why incoming students chose CSU and the reasons graduating seniors gave for persisting at CSU supported an institutional approach to retention. The graduating seniors indicated their persistence was reinforced by successful academic and social integration at CSU. The researcher concluded that student involvement, positive or negative experiences with faculty, staff, or processes influenced the persistence of CSU students. An atmosphere of acceptance of diversity at CSU was praised as well.

Recommendations are offered for leadership, faculty, staff, and for further study to strategically retain students through degree completion with a detailed plan.