Facebook as Dropout Prevention

Guess who’s most likely to finish college?

Oddly and surprisingly, it’s heavy Facebook users. According to an article by Brian X. Chen in Wired

Those obnoxious Facebook users who collect friends like stamps and post a status update every other minute are more likely to stick it through college than less active users, a recent study suggests.

A study led by Abilene Christian University followed the Facebook profiles of 375 first-semester freshman students for nine months to examine how Facebook activity can be used as a predictor for a student’s likelihood to stay in school. The research found that students who returned to school after freshman year had significantly more Facebook friends and wall posts than those who didn’t return.

There is some trouble with correlation vs. causation here. It’s not that the study, published in Journal of College Student Retention, really demonstrated that having an active Facebook account really made someone a better student. Rather, it’s just that “students who opted to continue on to their sophomore year had, on average, 27 more friends and 59 more wall posts than those who dropped out.”

Maybe they just wanted to stay at Abilene Christian because they had so many friends there. Having less Facebook friends may just indicate that a student wasn’t settling into college very well.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer