What is the Retention Rate: Everything You Need to Know

This refers to the percentage of returning students an institution has per year. The retention rate refers particularly to freshmen students who continue at the same institution for their sophomore year of school. When students drop out or transfer to another institution after their freshman year, it can adversely impact the initial school’s retention rate. Retention rate is one of the important statistics students and parents should review when considering prospective schools.

Several factors determine whether or not a student will stay in school and graduate within a reasonable period of time. First-generation college students are likely to have a lower retention rate because they’re experiencing a life event nobody in their family has experienced before them. Without the proper support of people close to them, these students aren’t as likely to stay the course through the difficulties that appear with being a college student. Race is another factor that impacts retention rates. Students enrolled in more prestigious schools tend to stay in the institution at a higher rate than students at lesser schools. Asians and Whites tend to be disproportionately represented at more prestigious institutions. Native Americans, Blacks, and Hispanics are more likely to enroll at lower-tier institutions. Although enrollment rates for minorities are increasing, retention rates aren’t keeping up with them.

The factors that impact the retention rate for most schools are closely related to the vetting process that prospective students utilize to evaluate institutions. Some key areas that may positively impact retention rates include:

·         Attending an institution where a student is admitted early decision or early action, showing a strong desire to attend that particular school.

·         Living in the dorms in freshman year, allowing for complete integration into college life.

·         Knowing whether a large or small institution is a better choice.

·         Paying close attention to the cost of the chosen institution and determining whether or not it’s within budget.

·         Visiting a school before deciding to enroll.

·         Being actually ready to have the college experience and leave home.

·         Getting involved in various on-campus activities, such as clubs, volunteer activities, etc., which instill a sense of belonging.

·         Having self-motivation and the commitment to succeeding in school.

·         Listening to the gut and knowing if and when a change in plan is required regarding college major and career goals.

·         Understanding that college isn’t only about getting a job after graduation, but it’s also about the learning experience and growing through the interactions with educators and other students who’re from different types of communities and families and different places.

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