Why Do We Track Freshman Retention Rate?

<p>Can anyone explain to me why freshman retention rate is tracked by U.S. News when they're already tracking 6-year graduation rate? Wouldn't people who leave after freshman year already be counted in the 6-year graduation rate?</p>

<p>That's a federal government IPEDS reporting category.</p>

<p>I like freshman retention rate because it's a decent way to gauge how much the students like the school.
High rate (90%+) = Students like the school
Low rate (-75%) = Students dislike the school</p>

<p>I went to a school with a freshman retention rate of like 67% and after my first year, I knew exactly why the rate was so low. Basically, the school sucked. It wouldn't surprise me if less than 50%, maybe even less than 40%, of the freshman never graduate from that college.</p>

<p>I want to make sure that I am investing my money (our D's education is an investment, not a cost) somewhere that she will likely stay. We didn't want her to be one of those kids that goes off to college and ends up back at home after spending a ton of money for a year or two. The retention rate was a good guage. As crs said...the higher the rate the better the students like being there. The better the chance they will graduate. The 6-year grad rate let's you know, on average, how long you are likely to have to go before you can graduate. Both good numbers to know.</p>

<p>Freshman retention after one year measures how well students can handle the work before they even get into the courses required for their major. Freshman year is mostly intro course in your major, freshman seminar (yes, students fail freshman seminar), prerequisites, and electives. Some freshmen never get off the ground.</p>

<p>I don't think the calculation of retention rate is as well-regulated as graduation rate by IPEDS. Schools are more likely to "enhance" the retention number than the graduation number.</p>

<p>Some students enter college with legitimate educational plans that they meet without graduating (e.g., a 3+2 program in which they study at the original college for three years, then transfer to an affiliated pre-professional program at another institution for their degree, or, completing core requirements at a campus near their home in order to transfer somewhere else for their final two years). These students show up, unfairly, as casualties in the original school's six-year graduation rate. But virtually no one fulfills what they came to college for in their first year. When someone doesn't return for year two, something didn't work out.</p>

<p>look at harvard, they have a high retention rate because everyone loves getting A's. ;)</p>

<p>Some schools, particularly LACs, put quite a bit of energy into helping students adjust to college which isn't always an easy thing. The retention rate isn't just about liking the school, but being able to succeed at it. Kids who feel like they're not up to the task are likely to walk out the door. Ditto kids who feel like they're lost and alone. Interestingly, the next biggest problem with retention happens after sophmore year when even larger numbers of kids leave a given a school. You can tell which schools have lots of departing students by transfer rates-- if there's room for more, it's because students left to make the space for them.</p>

<p>Retention rates are about a combination of fit, and individual attention. Schools with high retention rates are good at selecting students who have a high probability of succeeding in their environment. In the admissions office they weigh the risks of admitting a student not as qualified academically as others against the probability they will wash out. It is a big consideration at schools that have the luxury of <em>really</em> getting to know each applicant. The book 'The Gatekeepers' paints a good picture of this tension.</p>

<p>At low retention rate schools, the admissions committee barely, or does not at all, consider fit, merely a rank ordering of quality against the rest of the applicant pool.</p>

<p>Therefore, the lower fit schools will tend to be very large institutions who cannot/will not afford to scrutinize each applicant for fit. Then, middle of freshman year when a student is foundering, those very large institutions do not have personnel resources to devote individual attention to give that student a boost up, or a plan to get back on track.</p>

<p>It is even more critical at a large insitution to be a good fit than at a smaller school, since the large institution does not have the ability to personally guide the ill fitted student back into better fitment. It therefore behooves applicants to very large institutions to consult their mentors, parents, advisors, and others regarding fit during the pre-application phase. The large institution is less likely than an LAC to be able to advise, via wait list or rejection "you are qualified, but we don't see a fit with your goals and personal style. You probably won't LIKE IT here".</p>

a 3+2 program in which they study at the original college for three years, then transfer to an affiliated pre-professional program at another institution for their degree

Isn't the 3 part of those 3+2 programs getting the first degree? U.S. News defines graduation rate as the average proportion of a graduating class who earn a degree in six years or less.</p>