You should review many pieces of data before you decide which college to attend, and one piece is the school’s retention rate. All too often, students will go on tours or visit a college’s official website to determine which schools to apply to and which to skim over or put on the back burner. While the look of a school and its culture are two important factors, there are trends in data that can really indicate which institutions are dedicated to keeping their student body happy and healthy. Read on, and learn more about retention rates and how you can find this data on your search.
What is a College Retention Rate?
According to the United States Department of Education, a retention rate is the percentage of freshman or first-year students who continue their studies and enroll in a program the following year as a second-year student. Only first-year students who continuously are enrolled will be counted in the total for this rate. Second-year students and beyond are not part of this total. Every school has their own unique rate of retention based on the data that is reported by the admissions office.
Why is the Rate of Retention So Important?
Now that you know the exact definition, it is time to learn why this percentage can be so helpful while you are qualifying schools. What makes a school attractive to you might be very different from what makes a school attractive to another. When a school has a high percentage of students that continue on after their first year it can signify several different factors. One of the biggest indicators is that the school offers quality curriculum and that there is a high perceived value of what the professors are teaching. Schools with good rates also have good student environments and cultures that welcome newcomers.
Where to Find Retention Rates
The easiest way to find a school’s official rate is to use the Open Education Database. All colleges must report figures for review and they are penalized if the information is not submitted. Be sure to check the database and look for all of the metrics you can use. In addition to finding the rate of retention, you can find the following rates: financial aid, student to faculty ratio, acceptance rate, graduation rate, default rate and job placement rates. You may also be able to ask the school’s admissions department for this rate directly.
It is critical that you take the time to pick the right school while you get your education so that you can earn a degree. You may have schools on your list that you have always dreamed of attending, but you should still take the time to do your due diligence. You can use different metrics and also different reviews to decide if the school of your dreams was actually the school of current student’s dreams too. Once you do this, you can really feel good about the decision that you make to compare different schools. If you find a school with a great culture, good retention rates and other good metrics, like good graduation rates, it may be time to commit.