Retention rates for freshmen decrease

By Justin M. Nguyen

Executive managing editor

 

The University managed to improve the most recent retention rates for returning undergraduates, despite a severe drop in new freshman retention rates.

A report released Feb. 1 details the retention rates — the demographics of students who remain enrolled after a certain period of time — between the fall and spring semesters of the last five academic years.

According to the report, overall retention of undergraduate students has decreased from 87.9 percent in 2011-2012 to 86.7 percent.

The greatest loss came from the new freshman retention rates, decreasing from 88.8 percent to 82.4 percent.

James Steen, vice president for enrollment management, said that while freshman retention is at a five-year low, returning undergraduate retention is at a five-year high. He added that there are various factors that affect the retention of students.

“There is not one primary reason that I am aware of, but it is definitely something that we are monitoring very closely,” Steen said.

Though the retention rates of transfer students dropped from 78.5 percent to 75.7 percent in the last year, it remains higher than previous years.

President Robert B. Sloan Jr. said the University now has a committee dedicated to identifying the causes of retention rate fluctuations as well as working to retain more students.

The committee is led by Whit Goodwin, director of Student Life, and includes Steen as part of the core committee.

“There is a bigger committee that consists of people all around campus,” Sloan said. “They get data from each class — residential, ethnic, GPA, scholarships or family income. They analyze it in a lot of different ways and see if any patterns come up.”

Goodwin said he hopes the addition of football and the expansion of extracurricular activities will help involves students and keep them enrolled.

“I am very confident we will see some great things in terms of retention next year because of the increasing upgrades and creative programs we are continuing and putting into place at HBU,” he said.

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