Understanding the flow of graduate students from start to finish is very important for universities.  It is beneficial to have a high success rate not only for funding purposes but also because these programs are what make the universities more reputable.   The article Assessing the Progress and the Underlying Nature of the Flows of Doctoral and Master Degree Candidates Using Absorbing Markov Chains by Miles Nicholls (2007) discusses the flow

Suppose you want to climb to the top of a hill, but you are nearsighted so you cannot see the top of the hill in order to walk in that direction.  Even though you cannot see the top of the hill you can see the ground that lies directly in front of you and determine the direction in which the hill slopes upwards the most (Hillier and Lieberman, 2010, p.