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Taylor & Francis (Routledge)

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Journal of Higher Education (JHE)

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DOI: 10.1080/00221546.2021.1930839


Why do college students persist with their education, especially when facing challenges? We answer this question by exploring the complexities surrounding college student retention, using the organizational research lenses of job embeddedness, normative pressures, and the unfolding model of turnover. We first developed a college embeddedness scale and adapted a measure of normative pressures on college persistence. Then, we surveyed 287 first-year students from a broad range of racial and ethnic groups to understand their re-enrollment intentions and behavior. We found a positive relationship between re-enrollment intentions and normative pressures. Additionally, both college embeddedness and normative pressures predicted actual re-enrollment. Next, we examined how these forces interact with critical events (shocks) that prompt students to contemplate leaving, finding that college embeddedness and normative pressures mitigated the impact of shocks on re-enrollment intentions. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed, including the utility of job embeddedness theory for identifying heretofore neglected forces underlying college student retention.


Accepted version. Journal of Higher Education, Vol. 93, No. 1 (January 2022): 80-109. DOI.© 2022 Taylor & Francis. Used with permission.

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