Student retention

<p>Not sure where this posting belongs. We visited Hamilton today, and the admissions officer there said that Hamilton and many other colleges are finding many more students who are not prepared to be away from home and that this is a big issue on campuses. I am wondering if anyone has heard anything about this?</p>

<p>I never really considered student retention to be highly dependent on people being homesick and feeling the need to stay close to home. The very top schools have high retention rates (95% or higher) and the more average state schools aren't as high (~70-85%).</p>

<p>I know someone who left college after a couple months because she couldn't deal with being away from home. It happens, but I doubt that such kids make up a significant fraction of kids who leave the school.</p>

<p>From what I understand, (it was my husband who had this conversation, not me), students are not only leaving school for this reason, but many who stay are having alot of difficulty adjusting. Hamilton's retention rate is high (93% listed in listed in 2005 US News rankings). The conversation was prompted by my husband asking what types of students do not end up staying.</p>

<p>I think there are a lot of reasons why kids don't adjust. I would say that the environment at Hamilton does not sound promising, because they seem to be stating that there is a problem, rather than proposed solutions to deal with it... to me it sounds like the college expects kids to be prepared for the culture shock they recieve in college. I think colleges and universities that have strong freshman structures are probably less likely to find that problem than those that throw everyone together at first arrival. I don't know Hamilton's structure, but I would be surprised if their freshman experience was comparable on a happy-students level to others where students don't leave. Then again, with 93% retention, i don't think the problem is as big as you seem to think it is.</p>

<p>Look at the actual numbers. Really small, really. Sometimes students are so sheltered or immature that they just need another year to grow up like one of my old friends at my school. It was difficult to see her go but it was obvious that she wasn't ready! </p>

<p>Usually those 90%+ rentention rate schools have structured program and tons of support available to freshmen so the first year doesn't become "sink or swim" like UArizona (see NYT). The school will have given the freshmen all the things they need, it's now their turn to be proactive about their own problems- which my friend didn't until it almost killed her. Sometimes kids just don't want to adjust that's all and that is their problem! So that's why Hamilton made that statement: it's a problem, not our problem but we've done all we can and ultimately, it's up to the student to take care of her/himself.</p>

<p>I agree that colleges need a good freshman program.</p>

<p>Another problem I think is grade inflation. First, because of their too-easy A's in high school, kids are getting accepted into programs that might be too difficult for them. Second, because kids are used to getting A's, lower grades are a shock for them. I'm a tutor, and I can't even count the times I've had Freshmen come to me, holding a C or a D (sometimes even a B) paper, literally crying and saying "But I got straight A's in high school." Happens ALL THE TIME. I went to a private high school and there was a girl there who got all D's her first Freshman semester. She immediately transferred to public school and got STRAIGHT A's for the rest of her high school career. We kept in contact, and I think she got maybe one B, the rest were A's. None of her study habits changed from when she had earned straight D's, if anything they got worse; it was just the nature of her high school. We lost contact after graduation, but I would imagine she's having a very hard time in college. So I think a combination of being in programs they don't belong in and not being able to handle it when they do get lower grades causes some students to drop out.</p>

<p>ssv- that is why colleges need to look at the high school and also look at the sat and act scores. I have seen too many kids with above a 3.5 that can barely crack 1000 on the sats. That says something to me about the high school.</p>

<p>You are absolutely right northeastmom. Although I think colleges should go beyond looking at the the SATs and other standardized tests. Part of my school's curriculum and all the wealthier public schools in the area are "how-to-take-the-SAT" classes. From Freshmen year students have people coming in and saying "these are the words that are mostly likely to be on the SAT, learn them now" and there were tons of strategy sessions for questions you didn't know. A lot of people did better than they otherwise would have on the SAT and a lot of people's scores certainly didn't reflect anything about them besides three years of prep classes. At least my school stressed strong academics (the prep classes were a service it felt it had to provide in order to stay in competition with public schools), but not all the schools did (or do, I should say).</p>

<p>I have heard of many schools providing sat tutorials and reviews for the sat IIs, I wish our hs povided these, but they don't. Many kids get outside tutoring paid for by the parents for most of them and some kids do not go bcs parents cannot afford it, including middle income families that are strapped already bcs they have one or more in college now.</p>

<p>My point was that with grade inflation kids are not prepared for the college level classes. A friend of mine is a professor and he finds that most of his students cannot write well. If one cannot score 500 on m, v and writing on the sat, but has a gpa of 3.9, it may indicate serious grade inflation. </p>

<p>I agree that schools need to look at the entire application.</p>