The Relationship of Academic and Social Integration to Veterans' Educational Persistence Open Access
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This study sought to identify the relationship between academic and social integration and persistence for veterans in two-year colleges. Bean and Metzner's (1985) attrition theory served as the theoretical background of investigation for including variables throughout the seven research questions. The Beginning Postsecondary Student survey (BPS:04/06) served as the population for this study, focusing on first-time beginning veteran and nonveteran students in community colleges and private two-year institutions. Results from independent samples t tests and multivariate logistic regressions revealed that the higher education experience of veterans is not dissimilar to nonveterans. Academic, social, background, and environmental variables all highlighted the commonalities between veterans and the entire two-year population. Both groups of students had similar academic and social experiences, and the same types of environmental stressors such as family and work. The most important factors for these groups, background and defining variables, were also similar. Goal-oriented, female, and younger students were all considered more likely to persist. Racial characteristics of persisters paralleled each group and national trends, where African-American students were less likely to persist and Asian students more likely to persist. Degree expectations and enrollment status exerted the greatest influence for both veterans and nonveterans in this study. Veterans were more likely to persist if they pursued practical degrees and enrolled full-time, whereas nonveterans were more likely to persist if they pursued higher degrees and enrolled both full and part-time. Psychological outcomes were the most prevalent reason for dropout for veterans in the form of stress or personal issues in the BPS study. Implications for veterans and nonveterans as well as two-year colleges are presented.