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McCurrie (2009) noted that college students today have their own perspective on what college success and learning means and often these two are distinctly different. Many college freshmen feel silenced in high school and as such they define success in college as the ability to make choices about the texts they read, the topics they study, and using their own language. In general, McCurrie (2009) found that success in college meant higher grades, whereas success in learning centered on taking ownership of learning opportunities. Therefore, McCurrie (2009) suggests that students are more concerned with fulfilling their own goals, rather than conforming to the expectations of higher education.

Tinto (1975) developed a theory to help explain the voluntary departure of students from a particular college. He notes that his theory is not designed to explain systematic departures. Tinto’s model views student departure as a longitudinal process that takes into consideration the events that occur prior to and while enrolled at a particular college. Additionally, the model views these events in the context of voluntary departure and seeks to explain why and how the student selects departure prior to degree completion. Furthermore, Tinto’s model examines how the interactions between individuals and the institution lead to student departure.

Tinto (1975) noted that students enter college with a variety of personal experiences that shape their commitment to the college and ultimately influence their reason for departure. It is also this level of commitment to graduation that impacts their participation in the academic and social components of the college. More specifically, each college has both informal and formal aspects to its academic and social systems that students must interact with and navigate (Tinto, 1987). Overall, Tinto (1987) views these interactions as a longitudinal process that takes into consideration the personal experiences and beliefs each student brings to the context.

Tinto (1975) suggests that each college consists of explicit academic standards as well as unstated beliefs, norms, and values in its academic programs. Tinto asserts that the greater the student participates academically the higher the commitment will be to graduate. Thus, the higher the commitment to graduation the likelihood of persistence will increase. Besides academic integration, Tinto (1975) notes the presence of a social system at both the college level and subculture level. The level of social integration correlates to the student’s perception of their alignment to the values, beliefs, and norms of the college and its many subcultures.




McCurrie, M. (2009). Measuring success in summer bridge programs: Retention efforts and basic writing, 28(2), 28-49.


Tinto, V. (1975). Dropout from higher education: A theoretical synthesis of recent research.

Review of Educational Research, 45, 89-125.


Tinto, V. (1987). Leaving college: Rethinking the causes and cures of student attrition.

Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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