Those students who drift into higher education without a strong sense of purpose are likely to exhibit lower levels of commitment and hence persistence. Research has shown consistently that efforts to improve or maintain student motivation can lead to better retention and achievement (Martinez 1997). The intrinsic and extrinsic factors that influence the student on their initial course selection are important. There is strong evidence that the initial motivations of students, as expressed by their reasons for enrolling, aspirations, expectations of college do not vary significantly between students who subsequently stay and students who leave (Martinez 1995).
The combined influences of the college environment as perceived by the student and the effort expended by the student lead to student development (Pace 1979). The quality of student effort is the major determinant in the amount of learning conducted and is related to remaining in third level education (Ethington and Polizzi 1996).