Below are the major theories/models/concepts over the years which attempt to explain college student retention/attrition.
*Most of these theories have been taken from:
Berger, J. B., & Lyons, S. (2005). Past to present: A historical look at retention. In Seidman, A. (Ed.). College student retention: Formula for student success. Praeger Press.
Braxton, J. M. & Hirschy, A. S. (2005). Theoretical Developments in the study of college student departure. In Seidman, A. (Ed.). College student retention: Formula for student success. Praeger Press.
Astin, A. W. (1977). Four critical years. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Astin, A. W. (1985). Achieving academic excellence. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Bean, J. (1980). Dropouts and turnover: The synthesis and test of a casual model of student attrition. Research in Higher Education, 12, 155-187.
Bean, J. (1983). The application of a model of turnover in work organizations to the student attrition process. The Review of Higher Education, 6, 129-148.
Bean, J. P. & Metzner, B. S. (1985). A conceptual model of nontraditional student attrition. Review of Educational Research, 55, 485-540.
Kamens, D. H. (1971). The college "charter" and college size: Effects on occupational choice and college attrition. Sociology of Education, 44(summer), 270-296.
Kamens, D. H. (1974). Colleges and elite formation: The case of prestigious American colleges. Sociology of Education, 47(summer), 354-378.
McNeely, J. H. (1937). College student mortality. U.S. Office of Education, Bulletin 1937, no. 11. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.
Spady, W. (1971). Dropouts from higher education: An interdisciplinary review and synthesis. Interchange, 1, 64-85.
Summerskill, J. (1962). In N. Sanford (Ed.), The American College. New York: Wiley.
Tinto, V. (1975). Dropouts from higher education: a theoretical synthesis of recent research. Review of Educational Research, 45, 89-125.
Tinto, V. (1993). Leaving college: Rethinking the causes and cures of student attrition. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.