Why is the freshman return rate so low?

Visited New College and loved it. My only concern is the low retention rate. Does anyone know why so many freshmen don’t return? Is it grades? Finances? School too small? It would be helpful to know the reasons to make sure it is a good fit.

I think it’s a mixed bag. The work-load might be more intense and rigorous than many students anticipate, given the absence of letter-grades and the “hippie” reputation. Some kids might just want the validation that grades provide, and require more formal structure. It is a public college, with many more first-generation, low-income students than the typical progressive liberal arts college, furthermore. I know the poor four-year graduation rate is largely due to the thesis requirement, which many students struggle with if they haven’t planned properly. My son is a first-year student at NCF, and loves it. He is very resourceful and determined, though, and so he knows what he wants and is very tenacious about his intentions. He is finding NCF very supportive, and already has a political internship which he will probably get additional academic credit for. I have joined the Parents’ Facebook page, and I’ve surmised that NCF attracts a certain number of kids whose parents were thrilled to have a school that is both small and in-state, because those kids were sheltered and unaccustomed to life away from home. I recommend attending an accepted students’ event, if your child is admitted. It’s an affordable gem, in a great location. It’s not a school for a student who wants a lot of on-campus excitement, like Division I sports or Greek-letter organizations, but NCF has a lot to offer.

Thanks for your thoughtful reply. That makes sense. I am curious if those who leave after a year do so by choice. My DD loved the academic philosophy and nonconformist atmosphere. She’s a true intellectual thinker with a passion for things that interests her, but is not a nose-to-the-grindstone type of student. I have no doubt that she has the intelligence to shine, but I worry about her work habits. Specifically, I wonder how the self-discipline needed for the NC will work for her and how much support is offered if work starts to snowball. I know all schools day they offer support services, but wonder how they play out in practice.