Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

School Name

Annsley Frazier Thornton School of Education



Major Advisor

Dr. Fred Rhodes

Second Advisor

Dr. Jim Breslin

Third Advisor

Dr. Grant Smith


College demographics are rapidly evolving, and one area of concern is the enrollment and retention rates of male students. The National Center for Educational Statistics reported that in 2010, 57 percent of undergraduate students were female (Weaver-Hightower, 2010). The same report stated that the percentage was projected to grow to 59 percent by 2018 (Weaver-Hightower, 2010). Between 1997 and 2007, female enrollment has risen dramatically faster than male enrollment, with a 29 percent jump in 10 years. Male enrollment increased by 22 percent in the same time (Weaver-Hightower, 2010). Over time, this growing gender imbalance in higher education has been termed “The Gender Gap.” It is important to note that college success and graduation holds implications for those outside of the higher education field, in that educational attainment is consequential for the labor market, marital formation, and childbearing (Brownstein, p. 47, 2010). These statistics are cause for attention in that changes in participation in the labor market will affect economic and demographic patterns (Ewert, p.825, 2012). As the statistics become apparent, the impact on gender equity, earning power, and gender relations has yet to be fully realized. Through the lens of Student Success Theories and gender research, this study aims to examine the relationship between success related behavior and gender among first year students.

This quantitative study aims to examine the behaviors of first-year students at a small private, religious institution located in an urban area in the Southern United States. The purpose of the study was to better understand the impact of gender and behaviors of first-year students on persistence. The main research question of this study is: Does gender and success related behaviors significantly influence persistence of first-year students?