Why Do Graduate Students Quit?

Universities are increasingly facing up to the challenges of student retention.  For institutions like FHSU, state-supported bodies that have first-generation and under-served student populations as part of their core mission, retention isn’t just a buzzword: it’s critical to the reason the university exists in the first place.

The Atlantic magazine asks a provocative question about retention about a student population that doesn’t get a lot of attention when it comes to retention and student success: graduate students.

While the main focus of the article is on doctoral students, the questions brought up can apply to all post-baccalaureate students:

Research suggests that the majority of students who enter doctoral programs possess the academic ability to complete their studies, but systemic issues at schools may lead to high attrition and mental distress among graduate students.

What can FHSU and our graduate school do to improve our students’ chances of success?  One option, quoted in the article, suggests that quality mentorship is key to getting graduate students through their programs:

An overwhelming number complained about a lack of quality mentoring and support from faculty. The study also noted that doctoral students believed mentoring needs to begin earlier, be more systematic, and be based on a multiple-mentor model.

What should the mentor-student relationship be like?  How can we improve our student mentorship?


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