[an error occurred while processing this directive]

ODA Home > Institutional Research > Surveys > Client-Requested > Withdrawing Student Survey

Withdrawing Student Survey, Fall 1992 - Spring 1998


Executive Summary



Executive Summary

Almost one-third of the University of Colorado at Boulderís undergraduates leave the university without graduating. About 95% simply end their enrollment between terms. Another 5%, or 200-300 per year, withdraw during mid-semester (from the fourth to the last week of classes) through a formal process in the registrarís office. Formal withdrawal during mid-semester entitles these students to the return of their $200 enrollment deposits and some portion of tuition for the semester, depending on the date of withdrawal. Students who have withdrawn must reapply for admission before returning.

From Fall 1992 through Spring 1998, students formally withdrawing during mid-semester completed a questionnaire as part of the process. Here, we report results from these questionnaires and from analysis of student records.

Formal mid-semester withdrawal is an unplanned, rare event. No student would plan to register, pay tuition, and then withdraw, and only 5% of undergraduates who donít graduate do so. These are students in turmoil, who cite an average of three different types of reasons for leaving. Personal or academic adjustment factors (cited by 77%) and health or family issues (cited by 53%) are the two types cited most frequently. Reasons cited by residents and nonresidents, low and high income students, students of different class levels, and students of different racial and ethnic groups are very similar, and remained stable over the period 1992-1998.

Most students formally withdrawing at mid-semester are not generally disenchanted with CU-Boulder. Over half say they definitely intend to return. Only 18% say they definitely will not return. In fact, one-third of both the "definitely yes" and "definitely no" groups, plus one-third of an "undecided" group, do return. The lack of any relationship between their stated intentions and later behavior again points to the tumultuous nature of events surrounding the withdrawal decision.

In fact, some students who formally withdraw do so as their first step in the Time Out Program. This program allows students to take a leave of absence from the university and to return without needing to reapply and without any negative consequences to their class standing. We do not know what proportion of all students who formally withdraw are on the TOP; however, 38% of formally-withdrawn students who return to CU-Boulder (or, 13% of all formally-withdrawn students) were on the TOP.

White, Hispanic/Latino, and especially Asian American withdrawers are more likely to return than African American and Native American withdrawers. Students who do not re-enroll are more likely to have cited as reasons for withdrawal the impersonal nature of CU-Boulder, concerns about their own readiness for college or academic performance, and the unavailability of a particular program.

- Implications for University actions

With one-third of students who formally withdraw during mid-semester return, including one-third of those who say they will not return, withdrawing students should not be considered a lost cause. Following up with these students a few weeks or months after withdrawal might yield more returners and be appreciated by the students and their families.

Students who formally withdraw during mid-semester should not be regarded as representative of students who simply do not continue their enrollment until graduation. Decisions to withdraw during mid-semester appear to be quite emotional, prompted by many factors acting together, not due to one event or one university action or policy. Given this, and given the small proportion of students who withdraw, using the results reported here to guide changes in programs for undergraduates would be mistaken.

By joint decision of the Registrar and the Office of Data Analytics, students formally withdrawing are no longer asked to complete a questionnaire about their reasons. This helps streamline the process for the students. In our opinion, the value of the information collected is not worth reinstituting the questionnaire.



The population was all undergraduate students who formally withdrew during mid-semester from the University of Colorado at Boulder from Fall 1992 through Spring 1998. The Withdrawing Student Survey, a 2-page multiple-choice questionnaire, was administered only to those students who formally withdrew during mid-semester--1,632 students--during this time period. This group probably represents almost 100% of students who went through the voluntary formal withdrawal process--a process that must be completed if the student wishes to receive a refund of any tuition and fees paid for that semester. Though surveys were sometimes collected from students who withdrew prior to each semesterís census date, those responses are not included in the 1,632 analyzed here. We estimate that 3% of the total group (N=49) were graduate students at the time of withdrawal, and that the remaining 1,583 were undergraduates. All 1,632 students are included in these analyses.

Students do not have to complete voluntary formal withdrawal (VFW) to leave the university. Some students who donít intend to pursue refunds of tuition or enrollment deposit may simply leave in the middle of a semester. Others may complete a semester and then leave the university without completing a formal process. In fact, we estimate that 94-96% of all undergraduates who leave CU-Boulder without graduating do so without going through the VFW process.

Because most students leave the university without completing the survey, it is important to interpret these results with great caution. While we are confident that the responses characterize undergraduate students who leave mid-semester through the voluntary formal withdrawal process, we suspect that they do not capture reasons for leaving CU-Boulder, in general.


The questionnaire was administered to students who came to the CU-Boulder Registrar's office to complete the voluntary formal withdrawal process. Their responses were confidential but not anonymous. Completed surveys were forwarded to Office of Data Analytics.


The questionnaire was designed in the early 1980s by Aggie Madden of Retention Services, and later revised by Student Affairs Research Services (now part of Office of Data Analytics). Some demographic information, including identification, was requested. Students gave "yes/no" responses to items listing possible reasons for withdrawing. The items cover personal, financial, academic and university-based issues. The questionnaire also offered students the opportunity to write, in their own words, a description of why they were leaving CU-Boulder.


Twenty-eight possible reasons for withdrawing are presented on the questionnaire. In order to simplify the analysis and presentation of studentís motivations, we combined individual items into nine categories, or scales, with one to six items each. These scales are based on the results of a factor analysis, a statistical procedure that groups items with similar response patterns.



The following findings describe students withdrawing from CU-Boulder through the voluntary formal withdrawal process between Fall 1992 and Spring 1998. It is important to note that students do leave the university without going through the VFW process and that their reasons for withdrawing may be different from those reported here.

Overall, we can conclude that mid-term departure from the university is a turbulent situation for students. Students do not cite only one reason for withdrawing, but many, indicating that the interaction of a variety of situational forces is responsible for their decision to leave. Further, regardless of how students feel at the time, they are not able to predict accurately whether they intend to return to CU-Boulder in the future. Regardless of whether they say they will "definitely return" or "definitely not return," about one-third are back at CU-Boulder within four semesters. Other findings include:

  • Students' reasons for withdrawing (through the VFW process) have remained very stable over time.
  • The most commonly cited reasons for withdrawing include: needing a break from college, needing to get oneself together, emotional problems, health problems, poor academic performance and job/school conflicts.
  • Students give multiple reasons for withdrawing. On average, of a list of 28 possible reasons, students cite five individual reasons and three categories of reasons for withdrawing (see list). For example, one student selected "emotional problems, " "need to get myself together," and "inadequate financial support from parents" as individual items; these were grouped under two categories, personal/academic adjustment and money issues. Another student cited "health problems or emergency," "emotional problems," "housing/roommates/commuting," "family responsibilities," "on probation/own academic performance" and "inadequate study habits" as individual items; these fall into three categories, personal/academic adjustment, social fit, and health/family issues.
  • One exception to this pattern is the category of responses that focus on inability to get oneís school or major of choice. Students who leave the university for this reason do not tend to cite other reasons for leaving.
  • Reasons for withdrawing are similar across groups of students who differ on characteristics such as family income, ethnicity, and residency. Some exceptions are:
  • Employment. Students who work more than 20 hours per week are more likely to cite job-related issues (e.g., job/school conflicts). This is especially true for those students who work off-campus.
  • GPA. Students whose GPAs are 3.0 or higher are much less likely to cite issues of college suitability or academic performance in explaining their withdrawal than are students with lower GPAs.
  • About 34% of all voluntary formal withdrawal students who left CU-Boulder between Fall 1992 and Fall 1996 actually returned to CU within four semesters, regardless of whether they said they intended to return or not.
  • Rates of voluntary formal withdrawal are equivalent for residents and nonresidents.
  • Rates of voluntary formal withdrawal are equivalent across undergraduate class levels, except that new freshman have withdrawal rates much lower than those of all other classes.

Reasons for withdrawing

Students indicate whether each of 28 items is or is not a reason for withdrawing. These 28 items were grouped into nine categories of reasons for withdrawal (for example, both "Impersonal attitudes of faculty and staff" and "UCB campus was too impersonal" are grouped under the "Impersonality" category). In general, students often cite more than one reason and, in fact, more than one category, for withdrawing. On average, students cite five individual reasons and three categories of reasons for withdrawing (see list). For example, one student selected "emotional problems," "need to get myself together, " and "inadequate financial aid from parents" as individual items. Another student cited "health problems or emergency," "emotional problems, " "housing/roommates/commuting," "family responsibilities," "on probation/own academic performance" and "inadequate study habits."

The nine categories are listed in the table below, along with the percent of students who selected each as a reason for withdrawing. In all years, personal/academic adjustment is cited as the primary reason for withdrawing.

In some cases, students leave because of problems with or complaints about CU-Boulder itself. In these cases, it is possible that improved services, responsiveness, or other action by the university could prevent withdrawals. At other times, students withdraw because of personal issues that are not related to CU-Boulder. While some services, such as counseling, may be helpful for these students, in general these studentsí reasons for leaving are not under the universityís control. (Click here to see the list of items in each group, which includes information on whether the problem is university-based or individual-based.)

Reasons for withdrawing
By Calendar Year
|                              |                          Year                         |        |
|                              |-------------------------------------------------------|        |
|                              |    92 |   93  |   94  |   95  |   96  |   97  |    98 | Total* |
|Personal/Academic Adjustment  |    76%|    78%|    78%|    77%|    79%|    73%|    77%|     77%|
|Health/Family Issues          |    54%|    52%|    54%|    54%|    53%|    53%|    50%|     53%|
|Job Issues                    |    34%|    40%|    38%|    36%|    38%|    36%|    36%|     37%|
|Social Fit                    |    36%|    38%|    34%|    35%|    40%|    36%|    43%|     37%|
|CU Dissatisfaction            |    35%|    33%|    32%|    36%|    40%|    36%|    38%|     36%|
|Money Issues                  |    31%|    37%|    32%|    33%|    30%|    26%|    31%|     32%|
|Couldn't get Courses          |    14%|    12%|    14%|    14%|    16%|    15%|    17%|     14%|
|Couldn't get Program          |    12%|     6%|    10%|     7%|     8%|     9%|    10%|      8%|
|Racial/Ethnic Tension         |     5%|     3%|     5%|     2%|     3%|     2%|     4%|      4%|
|Total (N)                     |    117|    240|    326|    342|    289|    211|    107|    1632|

*Note that students were free to choose as many reasons as they wanted; thus, the totals add up to more than 100%
+1992 and 1998 figures reflect one term only

- Primary reason for withdrawing

In addition to giving their specific reasons for withdrawal, students answer the question "Was your primary reason for withdrawing personal, academic, financial or employment?" For example, a student may withdraw because of emotional problems (a personal reason) or because they are on probation (an academic reason). However, both of these reasons are included in the "personal/academic adjustment" category. Because of this kind of overlap between different individual reasons and the category scales, we find that the results of our analysis are not related to studentsí answers to the "primary reason" question. Given studentsí clear preference for using a wide variety of reasons to explain their withdrawal, it seems that this question is not very useful in understanding why students withdraw.

- Comparison over time

The graph below shows changes over time in the endorsement of the nine categories of reasons for withdrawal. As can clearly be seen, there is little change in studentsí tendency to select any one category from year to year, or to select one category more or less than others, in the years studied.

- Personal/academic adjustment

By far the most common reason for voluntary formal withdrawal is personal/academic adjustment. Also, over the entire survey period, 300 students (18%) selected only this reason for withdrawing. This category includes a variety of items, from general doubts about oneís suitability for college to being on academic probation. Student comments include:

  • I am not satisfied with my academic performance this semester and I have been under a lot of stress. I have not been able to keep focused on my studies and as a result, I have fallen behind.
  • Until I know more of what path I want to take, I donít want to be in school. I feel lost and frustrated and need some time to figure out my goals.
  • I withdrew because I do not feel that I am ready to attend college on a full-time basis right now.
  • Iíve just had more things go wrong this semester than I can deal with while trying to successfully complete classes.
  • I just need some direction finding time to focus and get my goals and aspirations together.
  • I am withdrawing because I feel like I am not mentally ready to be in college, and I canít seem to get myself to take it seriously at this time.
  • I am currently being treated for severe depressive disorder. I have a history of this problem and it significantly damages my performance as a student.
  • I screwed around too much. I donít attend classes regularly.
  • I felt that I could not perform at the college level. I feel that the courses are too hard for me and that I would fall behind the other students or I would flunk.

Over all years, 77% of students select at least one item in this category as a reason for withdrawing. Looking at specific items, 55% of all students cite the "need to get myself together" and 47% of all students say that "emotional problems" led to their withdrawal. Students who select these items also tend to select many other items, from feeling isolated to disliking the quality of instruction at CU-Boulder to finding CUís atmosphere too impersonal.

Students who select any other category of responses also tend to select one or more items in the personal/academic adjustment category. The diagram below shows how responses to other categories relate to the adjustment category. Double lines and arrows indicate a stronger relationship. "Couldnít get program" is set aside because this reason is not related to other reasons for withdrawing.

- Health/Family Issues

The second-most common reason for voluntary formal withdrawal, cited by 53% of students, involves either personal or family health problems or family responsibilities. Studentsí comments reflect a wide variety of reasons, including:

  • I was in a serious car accident this summer and I broke my neck in two places. I missed last semester and I am having problems retrieving previous knowledgeÖI am having difficult problems understanding my classes and feel I am falling farther and farther behind.
  • Basically, Iíve been experiencing an emotional breakdown, the death of my father quite recently brought about a tremendous amount of guilt and personal complexities.
  • My daughter is 4 years old. I want to focus my attention and my time on her during these precious years of her life.

- Job More Important

Over a third of withdrawing students (37%) state that conflicts between school and job demands, or an offer of a full-time job, enticed them to leave the university. Comments in this category do not necessarily refer to studentsí needing to work in order to support themselves. See also the "money issues" category, below.

Some student comments include:

  • I am involved in a neuroscience lab on campus and I work varied times and hours at the Boulder County Juvenile Detention Center. There just wasnít time in the day to balance school, job, and volunteer work.
  • Working 3 part-time jobs and taking 16 hours at school. I have a 2 year old daughter and I canít afford $513 every month for day care.
  • Increased job demands was my primary reason for withdrawing this semester. I hope to resolve this situation soon and I plan to attend CU at some point in the future.
  • Work opportunity is so important to me that I wouldnít care if I received a 0.0 GPA this semester. I canít do both and this work opportunity will go away. School is always here.

- Social Interaction

On average, 37% of students going through voluntary formal withdrawal report feeling alone or isolated, dissatisfied with housing, roommates, or commuting, or dissatisfied with the "party atmosphere" at CU-Boulder. These same students are likely to mention CUís impersonality and adjustment issues.

Some student comments include:

  • I came here expecting to be able to deal with the fact that I was away from home and that I would meet a lot of people that I shared common interests with and I didnít.
  • In dorm atmosphere, I found it extremely difficult to concentrate on schoolwork.
  • Thrown out of dorms, have no place to live. I am withdrawing to go home so I have a place to live.
  • Iím withdrawing from CU because of personal emotional problems. However, when I went to find some help there was no one to help me. Residence hall living was terrible and unorganized.
  • I felt "alone" in my commitment to artÖthere is a lack of a community for the undergrad who is an art studio major.

- Dissatisfaction with the university

This fairly broad category includes items specifically mentioning the impersonality of CU-Boulderís campus or faculty/staff, large class sizes, poor quality of instruction or advising, and the general CU-Boulder atmosphere. Overall, 36% of students report that complaints about the university contributed to their decision to complete voluntary formal withdrawal.

A wide variety of comments reflect university dissatisfaction, including:

  • Classes at CU need to be made smaller. The staff at CU isnít personal enough. I feel like just a number!
  • To make CU better you could get professors that care and are here to teach, not just to do research.
  • Fed up with the people and students in Boulder (leftist, commie, Godless tree huggers).
  • The quality of education can in no way be boasted about at CU. My courses are an exercise in routine. I am not engaged and stimulated, but bored and put off. The unforgettable expression of my experience will remain the French Final at the Coors Events Center, in which 580 plus students were dismissed from their final exams to allow the Lady Buffs to practice! Ha!
  • More professors, smaller classes. Less sociological and liberal B. S., more time on teaching and promoting those skills and abilities that truly help one adjust to the outside world. Let professors who can teach, teach! With 400 in every class all must either be mindnumbingly simplified or take forever to find results.
  • I have had trouble adjusting to the size of UCB and I donít think that I have gotten the personal attention that I deserve. The professors are great, but the size of the classes limits the quality of their teaching.
  • I came from a small private high school that had about 600 students in it, with an average class size at 15 or less students. This was a big switch for me to have 500 students in the same classes and I couldnít receive the personal attention that I was looking for, between student and teacher.
  • The advising I received here was rotten and very misleading. I feel I was given wrong advice and I was the one who had to suffer because of an inadequate and uninformed advisor.

- Money Issues

This category captures problems with financial aid, lack of financial support from parents, inability to find part-time work, and budgeting problems. Overall, 32% of students report withdrawing for money-related reasons. Many students withdrawing because of money also report job conflicts or opportunities (see above), and most also report adjustment issues.

Some comments include:

  • I was rejected for residency. Did not have adequate funds to attend CU.
  • I must obtain "in-state" status and work in the meantime so that I will be able to pay for school on my own. My family has chosen not to help financially.
  • Basically, Boulder is expensive, college is expensive, and I would rather come back when I am able to work part-time only and have enough in savings to do it without taking out loans.
  • Dad kicked me out of the house, had to work to pay for rent and got caught up in working and not having time to focus on school.
  • I had originally planned to work then the job fell through only a few weeks before school started. I had not budgeted for school and it was too late to obtain aid.
  • Being Native American Indian, I was to be awarded tribal monies which were not working out. Also due to monies I earned I did not qualify for most government grants. All this worked against me since I am still on out of state status.
  • I also feel there is a strong, biased stereotype towards ethnic minorities needing more financial aid as far as grants and scholarships are distributed, as well as a general lack of taking past circumstances into consideration.
  • CU is not worth $15,000 a year. It is about a $9,000 school.

- Couldnít Get Courses

This category of responses is cited by only 14% of voluntary formal withdrawal students. It includes both inability to get courses required for the major and inability to get courses that the student wished to take.

  • All of the classes that I wanted/needed were full. (I was approx. 20-40 down on the lists.) I called through most of January and was not cleared. I assumed incorrectly that I would not be automatically added to a class. Unfortunately, I then was out of the country for my job. I returned to find that I was added to class, but have missed the first month.
  • I couldnít get the classes I needed. I even called the Bursar to start withdrawing, then they called the Spanish dept. to get me enrolled and said "Go by tomorrow and they will sign you up." So I went to the Spanish dept. and they said "Yes, we talked to the Bursar, but we never promised anything."

- Couldnít Get Program

Only 8% of students cite an inability to enroll in their school, college, or major of choice as a reason for voluntary formal withdrawal, and this category remains the least-cited category (except for racial/ethnic tension) throughout all years covered in this report. Some student comments include:

  • The reason why Iím withdrawing is because currently Iím enrolled as an architecture major and Iíve realized architecture is not for me. Iím interested in interior designóhowever, CU doesnít have that major.
  • Not accepted in major program due to quota system. Since you have a monopoly on theater grad programs I find it intolerable that you would turn away a qualified candidate.

Relationships to Demographic Characteristics

- Ethnicity

There are few differences among the major ethnic groups at CU-Boulder in reasons for voluntary formal withdrawal from the university. The one difference that can be identified is that White and Asian-American students are somewhat more likely than Black, Hispanic/Latino and Native American students to cite job conflicts as a reason for withdrawing.

Reasons for withdrawing
All years, by Ethnicity
|                              |                        Ethnicity                           |
|                              |------------------------------------------------------------|
|                              |       | Hisp./ | Asian/ |        |        |  Amer. |       |
|                              | White | Latino | Pacific|  Black | Foreign| Indian | Total |
|Personal/Academic Adjustment  |   77% |    69% |    82% |    83% |    80% |    72% |   77% |
|Health/Family Issues          |   52% |    61% |    59% |    47% |    67% |    48% |   53% |
|Job Issues                    |   38% |    28% |    45% |    26% |    25% |    28% |   37% |
|Social Fit                    |   37% |    32% |    46% |    26% |    40% |    36% |   37% |
|Impersonality                 |   35% |    34% |    45% |    23% |    42% |    36% |   36% |
|Money Issues                  |   31% |    28% |    40% |    42% |    27% |    28% |   32% |
|Couldn't get Courses          |   15% |     9% |    20% |     7% |    12% |    20% |   14% |
|Couldn't get Program          |    8% |     9% |    12% |     4% |    12% |     8% |    8% |
|Racial/Ethnic Tension         |    4% |     4% |     2% |     0% |     5% |     8% |    4% |
|Total Number in Group         |  1228 |    146 |    102 |     42 |     40 |     25 |  1591 |

* Totals include responses from 8 students whose racial/ethnic identification is recorded 
as "unknown".  Further, race/ethnicity information was not available for 41 students.

It is also important to consider differences in overall university withdrawal rates based on ethnicity of students. The following table shows rates of voluntary formal withdrawal for each ethnic group, from 1992 through 1997. These were calculated by dividing the number of withdrawals in each group during fall semesters by the total fall undergraduate enrollment for these years.

Percent of ethnic group enrolled who completed voluntary formal withdrawal
Fall semesters only, 1992-1997

Total Rate







Native American







- Gender

Male and female students report some differences in reasons for withdrawing. Men are more likely to withdraw because of job issues, including competing time demands or offers of full-time employment. Men are also slightly more likely to withdraw because of money issues. Women are more likely to withdraw because of health and family issues or dissatisfaction with social interaction. Women are also somewhat more likely to withdraw because of dissatisfaction with the university, including issues of impersonality, size, and quality. There is essentially no difference between the rates of voluntary formal withdrawal for men and women (both are .01% over the survey period).

|                      |      Gender    |
|                      |----------------|
|                      |       |        |
|                      | Male  | Female |
|Job issues            | 42%   |  33%   |
|Money Issues          | 35%   |  30%   |
|Health/Family Issues  | 44%   |  62%   |
|Social Interaction    | 32%   |  42%   |
|Dissatisfaction w/CU  | 34%   |  40%   |
|Total                 | 557   |  439   |

- Family/financial resources

There are no significant differences among students with different levels of family resources in reasons for withdrawing. Even money issues are cited by similar proportions of students from families with low, medium, and high income.

- Work status while at CU

Work status at CU is strongly related to job-related withdrawals. Students who report that they work are more likely than students who donít work to withdraw for job-related reasons. Students who work more (over 20 hours per week) and students who work off-campus are also more likely to withdraw for job-related reasons. Finally, students who are not working while enrolled at CU are much less likely to cite money issues as a reason for withdrawing.

All years, by Work Status While Enrolled
|                      |                        Work Status                     |       |
|                      |--------------------------------------------------------|       |
|                      |       |        20 hrs/week    |      20+ hrs/week      |       |
|                      |  None |on campus | off campus | on campus | off campus | Total |
|Job Issues            |   16% |     20%  |      32%   |     48%   |      64%   |   37% |
|Money Issues          |   21% |     32%  |      33%   |     37%   |      39%   |   31% |
|Total (N)             |   517 |     171  |      307   |     171   |       77   |  1586 |
*Work status responses were not available for 46 students.

- Self-reported GPA

Students whose GPAs are 3.0 or higher are much less likely to cite issues of personal/academic adjustment, particularly needing to get oneself together or academic performance, in explaining their withdrawal than are students with lower GPAs. However, while the numbers are lower, these higher-GPA students still cite personal/academic adjustment as the most common cause of withdrawal.

All years, by Self-Reported GPA 
|                              |                     GPA                     |        |
|                              |---------------------------------------------|        |
|                              |less than|  2.0 - |  2.5 - |  3.0 - | 3.5 or |        |
|                              |    2.0  |   2.5  |   3.0  |   3.5  |  above |  Total |
|Personal/Academic Adjustment  |    93%  |   85%  |   77%  |   72%  |   67%  |   77%  |
|  Own academic performance    |    87%  |   54%  |   35%  |   19%  |   14%  |   37%  |
|  Need to get self together   |    80%  |   70%  |   57%  |   45%  |   40%  |   58%  | 
|Social Interaction            |    45%  |   40%  |   36%  |   31%  |   35%  |   37%  | 
|Dissatisfaction w/CU          |    39%  |   39%  |   34%  |   36%  |   32%  |   36%  |
|Money Issues                  |    44%  |   39%  |   33%  |   27%  |   20%  |   32%  | 
|Total                         |    201  |   302  |   407  |   372  |   263  |  1545  | 
*Self-reported GPA responses were not available for 87 students.  

- Residency

Reasons for withdrawing do not differ for residents and nonresidents.

- Age

Reasons for withdrawing do not differ for students of different ages.

Returning to CU-Boulder

Students are asked whether they plan to re-enroll at CU-Boulder at a later date. Responses to this question are unrelated to whether students actually do return. The majority of students (55%) say that they will definitely return to CU. Only 18% of students say that they will definitely not return. However, in truth, about 34% of all voluntary formal withdrawal students between Fall 1992 and Fall 1996 actually returned to CU within four semesters, regardless of how they answered the "plan to return" question.

Actual Re-enrollment within 4 Semesters
By Planned Re-enrollment (Row Percents)
|                                |             |         |
|                                | Re-Enrolled |   Total |
|2:Plans to Re-Enroll at CU      |             |         |
|   Yes                          |       34%   |    896  |
|   Undecided                    |       33%   |    441  |
|   No                           |       36%   |    295  |

- Relationship between reasons for withdrawal and plans to re-enroll

Students who say that they plan to re-enroll are:

  • More likely to withdraw for job-related reasons.
  • More likely to withdraw due to health or family emergencies.
  • Less likely to withdraw because of a lack of available courses.

Students who actually re-enroll are:

  • Less likely to cite dissatisfaction with CU-Boulder.
  • Less likely to cite concerns about their own readiness for college or their academic performance.
  • Less likely to withdraw because their academic program of choice was not available to them.

Other points:

  • About 30-40% of students who went through VFW between Fall 1992 and Spring 1996 returned to CU-Boulder within the next four semesters. About 14% of these returning students (or, 4% of all withdrawing students) also graduated within the next four semesters.
  • The probability of re-enrolling varies according to ethnic group:

Ethnic group


American Indian


African American






Asian American


Item-category groupings

% Citing

Locus of Problem

Personal/Academic Adjustment: 6 items



Need to "get myself together"



Experienced emotional problems



Dissatisfied with own academic performance/placed on probation



Wanted a break from college (for travel, work, etc.)



Inadequate study habits



Uncertain about the value of a college education



Health/Family: 2 items



Health problems (personal/family) or emergency



Family responsibilities (marital situation, child care, etc.) too great



Job Issues: 2 items



Conflict between demands of job and college



Accepted a full-time job



Social Fit: 3 items



Felt alone or isolated



Dissatisfied with housing arrangements/roommates/commuting



Too much of a party atmosphere at UCB



Dissatisfaction with the University: 6 items



Dissatisfied with quality of instruction at UCB



Disliked the general atmosphere at CU



UCB campus was too impersonal



Impersonal attitudes of faculty/staff



Class sizes were too large



Received inadequate or misleading academic advising



Money Issues: 4 items



Did not receive adequate financial support from parents or family



Did not receive adequate university financial aid



Did not budget my money correctly



Could not find part-time work at CU



Couldnít Get Courses: 2 items



Couldnít get the courses or professors I wanted



Couldnít get the courses I needed for my degree program



Couldnít Get Program: 2 items



Couldnít get in the school or college I wanted



Couldnít get in the major I wanted



Racial/Ethnic Tension: 1 item



Felt racial/ethnic tension




Last revision 05/02/16

ODA Home  |   Institutional Research  |   Reporting & Analytics  |   Contact |  Legal & Trademarks |  Privacy
15 UCB, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO 80309-0015, (303)492-8631
  © Regents of the University of Colorado