The recent trends in the U.S. education are rather dangerous as far as they reveal the permanently declining levels of college graduation accompanied by the growing numbers of students that drop out from college due to certain reasons (Beatty, 2001, p. 140; Whitbourne, 2002; Leonhardt, 2009). Scholars have considered numerous potential reasons for increasing drop out rates, including racial backgrounds, income levels, personal or family issues (Whitbourne, 2002), and even the improper level of the pre-college education (Leonhardt, 2009). However, the previous research works seem to display the lack of attention to the location factor in drop out rates. In more detail, scholars do not pay much attention to a student’s being in-state or out-of-state resident in his/her success in college.
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Therefore, the major question that the proposed research is designed to test is: Does attending college as an in-state or out-of-state student have a direct influence on the drop out or success rate of a college freshman? In order to answer this question, the proposed research will try to find out if there is any significant correlation between the drop out rates of U.S. college freshmen and the fact that they are in-state or out-of-state students in their educational establishments. The results of the proposed research are expected to be of help for educators and families of future college students in their attempts to improve the educational system and help potential college freshmen decide on the best educational destinations for them in every particular case.
In more detail, scholars and specialists from various spheres of education argue that the recent decades have been marked by the considerable decrease of successful education, i. e. graduation and degree acquisition rates, for American students (Mooney, 2008, pp. 141 – 142; Leonhardt, 2009).
The reasons for such a fact are numerous, and their brief list includes purely educational issues and inability to cope with the curricular tasks, social issues and backgrounds of college students, low incomes and need to work instead of studying, inability to fund the study up to the end based on the lack of grants, scholarships, and loans, and personal and family life issues (Beatty, 2001, p. 140; Whitbourne, 2002; Mooney, 2008, pp. 141 – 142; Leonhardt, 2009).
At the same time, the issue of being an in-state or out-of-state student seems to be ignored by scholars, although combined with the above listed factors, it can be viewed as one of the major reasons that increase the annual drop out rates in U.S. colleges. To out it simpler, an out-of-state student might experience difficulty in funding his/her trips to another state’s college, as well as with paying tuitions for the study.
Similarly, an out-of-state student can experience considerably family problems that do not allow him/her to take time- and money-consuming trips. In-state students might also experience social or personal issues that condition their dropouts. Therefore, the factor of being an in-state or out-of-state student is rather important for understanding the nature of increasing drop out rates among U.S. college freshmen.
Thus, the above presented sections reveal that the proposed research will deal with the correlation, or its absence, of U.S. college drop out rates among freshmen and their being in-state or out-of-state students. Drawing from this, the major problem of the proposed research is:
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The effect, if any, that being in-state or out-of-state students has on the drop out or study success rates of U.S. college freshmen.
Accordingly, to consider this problem in detail, the proposed research will develop a set of research questions, two research hypotheses, and a detailed methodology, which is expected to help in answering the former and handling the latter points of the research. The questions that arise from the above stated research problem are not numerous but answers to them will allow reaching the aim of the proposed research, i. e. understanding the pros and cons of being in-state or out-of-state students for college success chances. So, the research questions are:
- Which category of students (in-state or out-of-state) has the highest drop out rate after freshman year of college?
This question is formulated on the basis of the assumption that out-of-state students might have higher drop out rates after their freshman years in college than in-state students. Accordingly, the answer to this question (obtained using the respective tools and methods discussed in the Methodology section) will allow seeing which group of students has the highest drop out rates in U.S. colleges on the basis of the latter’s records.
- Does attending an in-state college statistically increase a student’s chances for attaining a college degree?
Moreover, for the more detailed analysis of the above stated problem the other two research questions are developed. The first of them inquires about the potential increase of chances for successful college degree attainment for in-state students. Naturally, if there is a dilemma between in-state and out-of-state students and their drop out rates, it is necessary to examine the implications of any of this student types for college drop out or success rates. Thus, the analysis of records of the selected colleges will allow seeing the correlation, if it exists at all, between attending an in-state college and attaining a college degree.
- Is there a correlation between freshman drop out rate and the number of out-of-state freshmen?
Finally, the third research question will allow examining another side of the research problem, i. e. the correlation between the drop out rates and the numbers of out-of-state students in the selected colleges. So, answering this question will be a huge step towards the understanding of the whole picture of the above statement problem.
In more detail, the three questions discussed above will serve as data collectors that are expected to allow handling the research hypotheses (see Hypotheses section) and finding out whether the geographical factor, i. e. being an in-state and out-of-state student affects the chances of a student for success in study or his/her drop out rates after the freshman year in a college. Accordingly, the specific answers obtained for all the questions of the proposed research will potentially allow improving the situation in the U.S. education, reduce the rates of drop outs in colleges, and increase the successful graduation rates. In simpler terms, the problem is easier to solve when its causes are well known, and the proposed research is expected to provide understanding of those causes.
Accordingly, on the basis of the above presented considerations the following hypotheses are formulated for the proposed research. The hypotheses include the null and the alternative ones, which is expected to allow the researcher to find out the most objective data and make conclusions on their grounds. So, the null hypothesis of the proposed research is:
There is no correlation between the number of in-state and out-of-state freshmen and the number of freshman who drop out from U.S. colleges.
Thus, if the null hypothesis proves to be true, the findings of the proposed research will not provide any implications to consider the numbers of in-state and out-of-state students as essential factors for determining the rates of freshmen dropouts in the U.S. colleges. Even on the contrary, the findings of the proposed research should allow arguing that these two factors, i. e. numbers of in-state and out-of-state students and freshmen drop out rates, are not related to each other.
However, there is also an alternative hypothesis for the proposed research, which assumes that:
Freshman who attend out of state colleges have a higher drop out rate than freshman who attend in state colleges.
For this hypothesis to prove its relevance, the research findings should display the direct relation of in-state/out-of-state factor for the drop out rates of U.S. colleges’ freshmen.
Needless to say, the proposed research will resort to the use of properly developed methodological approach to answer its questions, handle the hypothesis, and solve the above stated research problem. First of all, for the convenience of the study, the territory of the United States will be divided into four major regions according to the geographical principle, i. e. into South, East, West, and North. Three colleges will be chosen to represent each of the regions mentioned, while the selection criteria for the colleges will be the annual freshmen population (the required rate of freshmen is at least 10,000 students). The only two groups of freshmen that will be excluded from the total sample will be:
- Freshmen that transferred from one college to another one during the first two semesters of their study;
- Freshmen that dropped out because of disciplinary reasons (i. e. the students that were expelled from colleges rather than dropped out independently).
Thus, after all the freshmen from the selected colleges are sampled, the total numbers for the following factors will be recorded:
- The total of successful freshmen who completed their first year of studying;
- The total of successful freshmen who dropped out during their first year of studying;
- The total number of freshmen considered as in-state students;
- The total number of freshmen considered as out-of-state students.
Thus, the data will be collected for these four distinct groups of students, and after the data collection stage completion the data analysis procedures will be implemented.
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The analysis of the data collected during the proposed research will be carried out using the statistical methods on the whole and the so-called Chi Square test in particular. After the data are grouped properly in the respective charts, tables, and graphs, the qualitative analysis will also be carried out in order to retrieve the implications of the numerical data obtained (Whitbourne, 2002; Mooney, 2008; Garson, 2009).
First of all, the statistical data for all the participants to the proposed research will be grouped in the four distinct groups as mentioned above in the Methodology section. To carry out the Chi Square test for these groups of data, they will be presented in the following table:
Table 1. Chi Square test.
Thus, when all the figures are placed to the respective sections of Table 1, the formula of Chi Square test will be used to calculate the average rate and see if the null hypothesis is true:
Chi Square = total number of students [(in-state successful) (out-of-state dropped out) – (in-state dropped out) (out-of-state successful)] 2 / (total successful) (total dropped out) (total in-state) (total out-of-state)
Finally, for the better visualization of the analyzed research findings, they will be presented in the forms of respective graphs and charts. In particular, the proposed research will operate with the charts reflecting the proportions of in-state and out-of-state students, successful and dropping out students, as well as in-state and out-of-state successful and in-state and out-of-state dropping out students.
Thus, the proposed research will examine the topic of drop out and success rates for in-state and out-of-state students during their freshman years in U.S. colleges. Using the proper design and methodology for data collection and analysis, the proposed research will try to find out if any correlation between these factors exists. The findings of the proposed research are expected to provide the better understanding of the retention issues observed in the American education nowadays.
The clear understanding of the fact that being an in-state or out-of-state student affects the potential success or drop out rate for every student is expected to facilitate the development of policies to improve retention rates in U.S. colleges and increase their overall performance efficiency. Students and their families can also use the research findings to decide on applying to an in-state or out-of-state college.
Beatty, A. (2001). Understanding dropouts: statistics, strategies, and high-stakes testing. National Academies Press.
Garson, D. (2009). Chi-Square Significance Tests. Web.
Leonhardt, D. (2009). Colleges Are Failing in Graduation Rates. Web.
Mooney, L. (2008). Understanding Social Problems. Cengage Learning.
Whitbourne, J. (2002). The dropout dilemma: One in four college freshmen drop out. What is going on here? What does it take to stay in? Web.