This paper explores what motivates college students at different stages of their academic studies. Using Herzberg’s two-factor theory, the researchers conducted a survey of 535 students in three south-western universities to determine if motivations changed throughout their academic careers. Results showed that students at different stages of their college careers have different concerns and, as such, different motivational strategies are needed to respond to their concerns. Implications are given to grow and retain enrolment.


motivation, higher education retention, enrollment, satisfaction

JEL Codes


Full Text:



Azar, N., and Reshadatjoo, H., 2014. Designing a model to improve first year student adjustment to university. Management Science Letters, 4(5), 1051-1058. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.5267/j.msl.2014.3.003

Bassett‐Jones, N., and Lloyd, G. C., 2005. Does Herzberg's motivation theory have staying power? Journal of Management Development, 24(10), 929-943. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/

Becker, M., 2008. Personality and social network variables as predictors of adjustment: The transition from high school to college: ProQuest.

DeShields, O., Kara, A., and Kaynak, E., 2005. Determinants of business student satisfaction and retention in higher education: Applying Herzberg's two-factor theory. International Journal of Educational Management, 19(2), 128-139. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/09513540510582426

DeWitz, S., Woolsey, M., and Walsh, W., 2009. College student retention: An exploration of the relationship between self-efficacy beliefs and purpose in life among college students. Journal of College Student Development, 50(1), 19-34. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/csd.0.0049

Herzberg, F., 1966. Work and the nature of man. Cleveland: World Publishing Company.

Kara, A., and DeShields, O. W., 2004. Business student satisfaction, intentions and retention in higher education: An empirical investigation. Marketing Education Quarterly, 3(1), 1-25.

Keaveney, S., and Young, C., 1997. The student satisfaction and retention model (SSRM). Working Paper. University of Colorado at Denver. Denver, CO.

Lainson, D., 2014. Help! Get Me Out of Here: A Study of Satisfaction/Maintenance Factors in Higher Education Correlated to Class Standing. Diss. Claremont Graduate University. Claremont, CA.

Maddox, E., and Nicholson, C., 2008. The Business Student Satisfaction Inventory (BSSI): Development and Validation of a Global Measure of Student Satisfaction. Development in Business Simulation and Experiential Learning, 35, 101-112.

Mahan, D., Wilson, K., J., P. J., and Luthy, M., 2014. Is retention enough? Learning and satisfaction of first-generation college seniors. Kentucky Journal of Higher Education Policy and Practice, 3(1), 1-29.

Mallinckrodt, B., and Sedlacek, W., 2009. Student retention and the use of campus facilities by race. NASPA Journal, 46(4), 566-572.

Martinez, P., 2001. Improving student retention and achievement: What do we know and what do we need to find out? LSDA reports. http://dera.ioe.ac.uk/id/eprint/4007.

McDonald, S., and Varena, S., 2007. Interracial social comfort and its relationship to adjustment to college. The Journal of Negro Education, 76, 130-141.

Rowley, J., 1996. Motivation and academic staff in higher education. Quality Assurance in Education, 4(3), 11-16. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/09684889610125814

Schneider, M., and Ward, D., 2003. The role of ethnic identification and perceived social support in Latinos' adjustment to college. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 25(4), 539-554. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0739986303259306

Tessema, M., Ready, K., and Yu, W., 2012. Factors Affecting College Students' Satisfaction with Major Curriculum: Evidence from Nine Years of Data. International Journal of Humanities and Social Science, 2(2), 34-44.

Tinto, V., 1987. Leaving college: Rethinking the causes and cures of student attrition. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Zepke, N., and Leach, L., 2010. Improving student engagement: Ten proposals for action. Active Learning in Higher Education, 11(3), 167-177. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1469787410379680

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/saeb-2017-0004


  • There are currently no refbacks.