Student Attrition at the Five Federal Service Academies

FPCD-76-12: Published: Mar 5, 1976. Publicly Released: Mar 5, 1976.

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While some attrition is normal, student attrition at the five Federal service academies has been high in recent years.

GAO identified several factors which contribute to attrition, including: national economic conditions, and the 2-year service obligation which students have who drop out in the last 2 years at their academy. Most academy research studies on attrition have been concerned with the characteristics of students at the time of entry. GAO is concerned that the emphasis on selection method of reducing attrition can narrow, in the long run, the diversity of entering students and academy graduates.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: GAO recommends that the Secretaries of Commerce, Defense, and Transportation, and the services carefully consider the attitudes and philosophies of potential candidates for top academy positions, and particularly candidates' ability to use the academy's unique environment. The Secretaries should direct service academies to increase entering academy classes to offset the attrition expected during the first summer and increase research emphasis on evaluating the academy's environmental impact over time on attrition and especially its interaction with student characteristics. Efforts to give prospective students a clear picture of academy life should be increased. The current level of drills and ceremonies and other aspects of academy environment should be reexamined. Recruiting efforts need to be increased to enlarge the pool of applicants from which to find the most qualified.

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