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Title: “School Can Wait”: A Qualitative Analysis of Student Experiences With Leave of Absence at Princeton University
Authors: Ward, Katie
Advisors: Duneier, Mitchell
Department: Sociology
Class Year: 2020
Abstract: What factors influence a student’s decision to take a leave of absence? This thesis follows the interviews of fifteen students and alumni at Princeton University who have taken a leave of absence during their academic career. Interview topics on the participants’ reasons for departure, experience while away, and return to university were analyzed across racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic lines in order to identify common themes among similar subsets of individuals. Students were also asked about their perception of the university’s involvement in their process to take leave to better understand whether Princeton aids or inhibits undergraduates depending on the reasons mentioned. Results suggest that the majority of low-income students faced similar obstacles before, during and after a gap year, particularly with their mental health, regardless of their initial motive(s) to withdraw. Additionally, low-income students expressed a general disdain for Princeton’s administrative proceedings and felt that efforts to assist students during their time off were insufficient, most notably during their leave and after re-matriculation. A few results concluded that similar inconveniences occurred across racial/ethnic barriers. This study’s conclusions advocate for a revision of Princeton’s policies regarding a leave of absence in order to better accommodate low income students’ experiences.
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Sociology, 1954-2020

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