I’m helping a young relative with the college admissions process, and she was just admitted EA. I won’t go into personal details, as I know I can’t post about a student who isn’t my own child; but there’s so much about the college that looks like a great fit, and it’s looking like it may add up financially too. The biggest concern I have is the relatively low first-year retention rate (80%) and graduation rates (54% in 4 years, 64% in 6 years, per the common data set.) Even after you take out the 20% who don’t return after the first year, that’s only 67.5% of the remaining cohort graduating within 4 years, and 80% within 6 years.
This is quite a bit of attrition. I’m sure financial pressures must be part of the picture, since Earlham’s median family income is only around 85K/year (compared to at least two dozen elite schools where median family income tops 200K, and over 690 colleges nationwide with higher median family incomes than Earlham). But the school is well-endowed (51st in the nation in endowment per student) and reasonably generous with financial aid, so money can’t be the whole issue.
Are there a lot of “upwardly mobile” transfers doing well at Earlham and then transferring to more competitive schools? Are a lot of students leaving because they find the school isn’t the right “fit?” Are there other sources of dissatisfaction or “failure to thrive” at Earlham?
I’m concerned about how this level of attrition affects morale and the social fabric of the college community. Would love to hear from anyone with firsthand experience or insight. Thanks!