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Research in Higher Education

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 43–68 | Cite as

Characteristics of extenders: Full-time students who take light credit loads and graduate in more than four years

  • James Fredericks Volkwein
  • Wendell G. Lorang
Article

Abstract

The existing enrollment management and student-institution fit literature generally concentrates on two student populations: persisters and dropouts. This study investigates a third population that we call extenders—those ostensibly full-time students who take longer than normal to complete a bachelor's degree. By analyzing the transcripts and survey responses of undergraduates at a public research university, we identify three groups of extenders: financial need extenders, grade-conscious extenders, and special situation students. While all three types are visible in our transcript analysis, we find empirical support in the multivariate analysis only for the first two.

Extender behavior that is based on financial need is congruent with Cabrera's integrated model of student retention. However, there are few other congruencies between these findings and the student-institution fit literature. We found little influence exerted by the usual measures contained in other studies that have used concepts in the Tinto, Bean, Nora, and Cabrera models, such as academic and social integration, goal clarity, and encouragement by family and friends. Apparently these concepts and measures have little to do with student decisions to take lighter academic loads and to lengthen their graduation date. Extenders in this study are not negative about taking longer to graduate and are generally satisfied with their experiences.

Keywords

Education Research Special Situation Public Research Social Integration Survey Response 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • James Fredericks Volkwein
    • 1
  • Wendell G. Lorang
    • 2
  1. 1.Office of Institutional ResearchAlbanyUSA
  2. 2.University at Albany, State University of New YorkUSA

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