Latino success stories in higher education: A qualitative study of recent graduates from a health science center. Page: 23
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turned inside out to account for the reasons a particular student might succeed. Research shows
that succeeding in college at the undergraduate level, or completing a college degree, is a
complex mix of institutional, societal, and personal characteristics, some of those including
family background, economics, pre-college educational attainment, student motivation, and
quality and amount of effort exerted while pursuing a degree (Adelman, 1999; Pace, 1980; Tinto,
1993; Tornatzky et al., 2002).
In a study from Polinsky (2003) on student retention, students were asked just prior to
graduation, why they felt they had succeeded in completing their degrees. Graduates in the study
said that self-determination and motivation were the most important factors in their success,
followed by support from friends and family, support from college instructors, and support from
college support staff. Almost 95% of the approximately 3,000 students surveyed said that self-
determination and motivation were the reasons for their success. The next closest category,
encouragement and support from friends and family, accounted for almost 40% of the responses
(Polinsky, 2003). Polinsky did this study at a community college in Pennsylvania, but other
researchers have also studied the importance of self-determination and motivation for success in
college (Allen & Nora, 1995; Arcuri, Daly, & Mercado, 1982; Astin, 1975; Cardoza, 1991;
Terenzini & Wright, 1987). Allen also found that motivation had a significant effect on
persistence for minority students in his 1999 study of 581 freshmen.
In a study of low-income and minority undergraduate students in New England, four key
areas were identified as influencing college success: pre-college preparation, financial aid,
involvement at the institution and feelings of connectedness to the institution by the student, and
attendance patterns (IHEP "Getting Through College," 2001). The study, which included the
results of an original survey, in-depth interviews with low-income and minority students enrolled
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Colley, Kay Lynne. Latino success stories in higher education: A qualitative study of recent graduates from a health science center., dissertation, May 2007; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc3687/m1/33/: accessed September 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .