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Examining Development, Genes, and Environment [View Image]

New study explores risk and protective factors associated with college student retention

March 24, 2021

a hand holding a diploma [View Image]

A new study led by EDGE Lab Graduate Student, Nate Thomas, and Director, Danielle Dick recently published in the Journal of College Student Development examines the relative importance of social, behavioral, and interpersonal factors on student retention over time

Using data on a sample of nearly 10,000 college students from Spit for Science, the team sought to shed light on the risk factors associated with dropping out of college, the protective factors that lower the odds a student will drop out, and the time frame in which those factors are most influential. Thomas and his co-authors found that increased depressive symptoms, antisocial behaviors, exposure to stressful events, and substance use are consistently related to increased risk of dropping out of college. The study also found that involvement in student organizations, living on campus and greater social support were associated with a lower likelihood of dropping out. However, these protective factors were most significant during the students' earlier years of college. 

In addition to Dick and Thomas, the research team also included EDGE Lab Faculty Peter B. Barr and Amy Adkins, as well as Derek L. Hottell, Ph.D., director of VCU Recreational Sports.

To learn more about the study in Nate Thomas' and Danielle Dick's words, visit the VCU News Press Release.

To read the publication, visit Longitudinal Influence of Behavioral Health, Emotional Health, and Student Involvement on College Retention.

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