All Theses, Dissertations, and Capstone Projects

Year of Award



Master of Business Administration (MBA)


College of Business & Professional Studies

Degree Program



Business Administration


Admissions, Retention, Academic Counseling, Placement, Business School


Currently there are approximately 12,000 proprietary schools across the country. These schools fall within postsecondary education and outside higher education. Generally these schools are operated for profit, but some are established as non-profit corporations. Proprietary schools do not award college level degrees. There is a suggested enrollment of one million students in proprietary vocational schools across the country. These students generally do not stay on campus and commute to the school daily. The independent business school has had an ambiguous place in American education. It is an educational enterprise with a clearly defined objective, yet it is also a business enterprise operated for profit. It has been permitted a maximum of private initiative with minimum supervision from the state or federal authorities. It is an institution which has provided most of the~office workers needed in earlier periods of the twentieth century. Business education in all forms originated with private business schools. Proprietary schools continue to be preferred by students seeking intensive job training. These schools many times offer courses too expensive for community colleges to implement and they have more institutional flexibility because the courses are relatively short and the hours are flexible. These schools survive because there is an increasing need for the type of training they offer and through the years they have gained increasing support by the government both state and federal.

One of the most common denominators among these schools is the problem of retention of students. In analyzing the retention rate one should first consider the schools objectives and measurements for success and secondly the student should be considered for their needs and reasons for enrollment in a particular institution. Both prime objectives,of the student and the school should interfaced for the successful goals of each. If this does not happen, retention rates fall and could possibly jeopardize the schools existence. Careful analysis of the students (who they are, where they come from, their goals in life etc.) would help to establish a clear picture of the problems that exist. Retention rates are watched closely at all schools and when that rate drops below 50% there is sufficient reason for the school administration to reevaluate their departments from an internal standpoint.

The following paper examines closely one typical proprietary school located in a medium size suburban town near a large metropolitan area. This particular school has been in service for approximately 18 months. During this time the school has been maintaining a retention rate of 65-75% - currently the rate is 71% (Appendix A). Further analysis shows that 72% of the students drop from school during the first two months (Appendix B). The age group most affected by the drop rate was between 18 and 24 years (Appendix C). Reasons for the drops varied from non-attendance to financial problems (Appendix D) Surprisingly only 7% of the students who dropped from the program did so because of academic failure.

There is no particular segment of the school held accountable for the drop in student enrollment, rather student retention is a team effort involving everyone connected with the school. Retention methods must be utilized by all phases of the institution in order to raise the attrition rate. This paper attempts to examine in detail various methods which can be implemented by proprietary schools to raise retention rates.

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